‘Broken promises’ on eating disorder services

THE Government has failed to deliver on its own policies to improve services to treat more than 7,000 Irish people suffering with eating disorders, a campaign group has claimed.

Bodywhys — The Eating disorder Association of Ireland — said services here are “hugely under-resourced” and people are dying needlessly as a result.

The group will highlight the problems faced by people with anorexia and bulimia in accessing public healthcare during Eating Disorder Awareness Week which runs from today until March 2.

Bodywhys chief executive Jacinta Hastings said: “The unfortunate reality is that eating disorder treatment services in Ireland are hugely under-resourced. This was highlighted in the Government’s strategy document, A Vision for Change in January 2006, but there has been very little movement on the recommendations from that report.”

The Vision for Change policy document on mental health services promised a national centre for children and teenagers with eating disorders, as well as six beds for the treatment of the condition in each of the former health board areas.

Last summer, the Health Service Executive admitted it will take a further 10 years before these pledges are delivered on.

In the meantime, patients who need treatment are being forced to wait more than 18 months.

Ms Hastings said: “Now is the time to acknowledge the commitments that have been made and to ensure that practical steps are being taken to translate those commitments into genuine improvements in service provision.

“Eating disorders are serious, potentially life-threatening conditions, but, with the appropriate intervention, recovery is possible.”

Bodywhys has support groups in Dublin, Carlow and Galway.

Today it will announce the opening of a support centre in Cork which it hopes will be up and running within a month.

The group said it has had a 50% increase in calls to its helpline in the past two years.

“We would encourage anyone who is experiencing an eating disorder, or is concerned about a friend of a family member, to contact us on 1890 200 444 to get much-needed help,” said Ms Hastings.

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