Concerning number of children and young people waiting for eating disorder treatment

19 August 2021

Responding to the latest analysis from the Royal College of Psychiatrists on the record number of young people waiting for eating disorder treatment in England, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, said:

"It is deeply concerning so many children and young people having to wait for urgent and routine treatment for eating disorders.

"This analysis confirms the findings of a survey by NHS Providers in May which found 85% of mental health trust leaders said they could not meet demand for children and young people's eating disorder services.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that worryingly, many children and young people are presenting later with more complex symptoms which are often harder, and take longer, to treat. The challenges are compounded in the short term by a lack of beds and staff.

"Eating disorder services need continued investment to support prevention, workforce expansion and increased community based provision, alongside building an appropriate bed base and a safe therapeutic environment, so that we can reach children and young people earlier while ensuring more intensive treatment can be delivered closer to home for those who need it.

"But we need the funding and the workforce to make this happen. While the government has rightly announced extra money for mental health services recently, adequate investment in the longer term is required across all mental health services, including investment in buildings and infrastructure, if we are going to significantly bear down on waiting times and provide safe and timely services for patients.

"That's why the upcoming comprehensive spending review is so critical."