Opinion- Eating Disorders

Early intervention is absolutely vital in the fight against eating disorders and everyone with an eating disorder must have access to timely treatment. That is why I am glad that an ambitious new access standard is being introduced, aiming for 95 per cent of children (up to 19 years old) with eating disorders to receive treatment within a week for urgent cases and four weeks for routine cases by 2020. I am pleased the latest quarterly figures on waiting times indicate the NHS is on track to meet this target.

In 2014, the Government announced that it would invest £150 million to expand eating disorder community-based care, and I welcome that as a result 70 new or extended community services are now either open or in development. This means that at least 3,350 children and young people a year will receive swift, effective eating disorder treatment in the community.

As part of the NHS Long Term Plan, published in January 2019, the next five years will see boosted investment in children and young people's eating disorder services. The NHS is on track to deliver the new waiting time standards for eating disorder services by 2020/21. Four fifths of children and young people with an eating disorder now receive treatment within one week in urgent cases and four weeks for non-urgent cases. As need continues to rise, extra investment will allow the NHS to maintain delivery of the 95 per cent standard beyond 2020/21.

The Government is committed to improving eating disorder services for adults. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has updated its guidelines, and NHS England recently completed a national review of provision. While NHS England is now considering next steps, my colleagues in the Department for Health and Social Care are working to ensure that people are properly supported as they transfer between children's and adults' services. I am pleased that the Government is currently delivering against the standards set for waiting times for eating disorder treatment.

Eating disorders are an acutely distressing mental illness but with the right approach, and appropriate investment, I am confident that the Government will be able to offer help, care, and a full recovery to all those who suffer from eating disorders.