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What changes are needed to improve young people's eating disorder services?

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What's the inquiry about?

In 2019, the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee announced an inquiry into NHS eating disorder services – and whether there have been any improvements to patients' experience of services over the past two years.

Research shows that eating problems often emerge in adolescence, with the risk being highest for young people between 13 and 17 years of age. That's why it's so important that young people are able to access high-quality support when any problems first arise. 

Eating problems often emerge in adolescence, with the highest risk being for young people between age 13 and 17.

Our view

  • There has been a welcome investment in young people's eating disorder services in recent years, which has been accompanied by targets to reduce waiting times for services. Through this, there have been real improvements to young people’s access to eating disorder services.
  • However, we are concerned that there is variation across England in meeting the access targets, which means that young people in some area are waiting much longer to access support than others. It's essential that all young people that need treatment for eating problems are able to access services quickly.
  • At YoungMinds, we have heard from parents whose children have received care for an eating disorder in inpatient units. They have expressed serious concerns about the lack of information, guidance and support that they and their child receive following discharge from services, with cases of relapse and resuming behaviours of their eating disorder. 
  • The young people that we work with tell us that they want to be involved in the decisions that are made about their care and changes to their treatment. Eating disorder services must ensure that children are involved in the decisions about their treatment, changes to the staff that they work with and the services that they access.
Read our full response