The evidence is strong – the best way to treat an eating disorder is with early and intensive outpatient services. And Ellern Mede can certainly help you with that. It will help you avoid becoming so ill you need to go to hospital.

A new BEAT charity report finds only one third of NHS outpatient eating disorder services meet recommended levels of intensity, despite the potential for such services to save NHS costs and save lives. Ellern Mede is helping to meet this need.

Ellern Mede’s North London hospitals both offer flexible outpatient programmes for those patients who can avoid hospitalisation, with levels of intensity of programme varied to whatever a particular patient needs.

Frequently, patients need intensive intervention to fit into their usual life schedule with either studies or work. Even if they can only spare half to one full day a week, our multi-disciplinary team offers psychiatry, psychology, dietetics and meal support combined with blood tests and medical observations. Short term intensive programmes over even as short a period as six weeks can make a very big difference, particularly at the emerging stages of an eating disorder. These can  be offered at prices affordable to the average family on a private basis – something that is essential for many families since NHS services are still being offered only to the most unwell patients due to lack of capacity.

We welcome BEAT’s commentary on their research, expressing the opinion that ‘intensive outpatient eating disorder treatment is inaccessible to thousands of patients’. They specifically cite the need for day and home-based treatments, stating these ‘could significantly reduce costs to the NHS’.

In fact, Ellern Mede would say the biggest advantages of intensive and flexible outpatient day treatments is that recovery is more likely, relapse and worsening symptoms are reduced, in turn reducing the demand on the NHS for inpatient residential treatments. That would in turn, as BEAT points out, enable residential NHS and private eating disorder resources to serve that smaller percentage of eating disorder cases where even intensive outpatient interventions have not succeeded and so hospitalisation is indeed unavoidable.

Currently, the NHS buys some of its residential eating disorder treatment from private providers such as Ellern Mede. However, there is no specific NHS or CCG ring-fenced funding allocated for similar private provision of NHS-commissioned outpatient eating disorder service. This is why many families and young adults are funding their own treatment with the help of medical insurers or third sector funders.

A leading NHS eating disorder service has already published research of its own explaining the wisdom of early intervention. South London and Maudsley say that by making an outpatient programme more intensive, by including day therapy, actually reduced the overall programme cost by £87,000 per person. When applied as an alternative to inpatient, it was thought to reduce the treatment duration from 196 days to 38.

BEAT states: ‘Day and home based treatment programmes allow patients to return home for their evenings and weekends, giving patients the opportunity to immediately put the skills they learn in treatment into practice in their day to day lives.’

Ellern Mede also uses this principle within its inpatient service to shorten lengths of stay and help prepare patients for sustainable recovery after discharge. A graded home leave programme gradually reduces the number of residential days in treatment.

Ellern Mede Medical Director Dr Hind Al-Khairulla also explains: “We can support patients with therapy sessions provided on audio visual secure platforms once they have developed a therapeutic relationship with a clinician. This can be part of outpatient and post inpatient support programmes. It also helps support people who may live at a distance.”

Read more about BEAT’s findings here: