As inpatient admissions for eating disorders rise experts are calling for new approaches to outpatient treatment to get people into treatment earlier.

Eating Disorder expert Jane Morris, Rising admissions for eating disorders—we need to close the revolving door of treatment and relapse (BMJ, March 15, 2018) , asks if outpatient treatment is working.

Jane, a consultant psychiatrist at Cornhill Hospital in Aberdeen and chair of the Faculty of Eating Disorders for the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland, said: “One conclusion to draw from the rise in hospital admissions is that current outpatient treatment isn’t working well enough.”

Speaking of NHS commissioned outpatient services, she said: “Sadly, excellent eating disorder clinicians in the UK are unable to offer their best service as a result of overwhelming demand and reduced staffing. Colleagues speak of having to ration therapy that takes place in the community, and being obliged to discharge patients from outpatient services prematurely. This causes a “revolving door” of repeated treatments and relapses, leading to chronicity and despair.”

Ellern Mede supports the view that improved community and outpatient services for eating disorders are needed. Ellern Mede offers Outpatient and Day Services privately at its hospitals and at its Harley Street clinic but these are not NHS commissioned services.

The additional £30bn each year of funding promised by the Department of Health since 2014 is for ‘community eating disorder services’. According to a recent comment from an NHS England spokesman to East Anglian Daily Times, in 2017, the UK saw “70 new and improved community services”.

Major medical insurers, including AXA PPP and BUPA, are increasingly offering medical cover for outpatient care for mental illness including eating disorders and have helped many young people to use services at Ellern Mede since we opened outpatient services in London and in Barnet in 2017.

Dr Hind Al Khairulla, Medical Director, Ellern Mede commented: “Many young people have responded very well to our outpatient treatment which includes family based treatment. It can be weekly sessions of an hour or more, or it can be a day, or several days a week involving a range of therapies. Provided a person seeks help early enough it can prevent hospital admission and permit less disruption to school and family life. The support can be as short or as long as the case requires.”