THE NHS has launched an early intervention service in 18 sites across the country to support 16-25 year olds in the early stages of eating disorders.
The expanded service will target care to those who have been living with a condition for fewer than three years. They can be contacted within 48 hours and treatment will begin two weeks later.
The approach is based on a successful model developed and trialled at King’s College London and the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, with support from the Health Foundation.
A 2015 report estimated that between 600,000 and 725,000 people in the UK have one or more eating disorders.
The First Episode Rapid Early Intervention for Eating Disorders (FREED) service is part of the NHS long term plan commitment to provide an additional £1 billion a year by 2023-24 to expand and improve community mental health care.
“Young people who are struggling with an eating disorder stand to benefit significantly with the roll out of this new NHS service which will provide access to early intervention, treatment and support,” said Professor Tim Kendall, NHS England’s national clinical director for mental health.
“These services have already proven to be effective and the expansion in care we have announced today will support our ambition to meet the rising demand for support to tackle young people’s ill health.”
The new and expanding community-based mental health care will provide treatment and support for 370,000 adults, including those with eating disorders.
Nadine Dorries, minister for health, said: “Eating disorders can have a devastating impact on individuals and their families – and can very sadly be fatal. I am committed to ensuring young people have access to the services and treatment they need which can ultimately save lives. Early intervention is vital, so it’s great to see this programme being rolled out in trusts across the country.”
The Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) is supporting the national adoption of evidenced based models including the NHS FREED expansion for the early identification of eating disorders in young people.
“My treatment was completely tailored to me and my lifestyle. After my treatment was finished, I left the programme so optimistic and grateful for everything they had given me,” said George from London who used this service.