An expanded adult community eating disorder team in Dublin is currently under development and should be completed by the end of the year, Minister of State at the Department of Health Mary Butler has said.
Ms Butler said it is part of the Government’s commitment to establish three new eating disorder teams and fully staff three existing teams by the close of 2021.
Last March, the minister announced that she had secured Government funding of €3.94 million for 2021.
The area has been hit hard by delayed funding and vacancies, at a time of increased demand.
Since 2016, €5.7m has been made available for eating disorder posts — but just €1.77m has been invested.
Figures published by the HRB this month show a 61% rise in 2020 in admissions of children and adolescents to psychiatric units and hospitals for eating disorders and a 32% increase among adults.
Under the 2018 HSE national eating disorders plan, 16 specialist services — eight for children and adolescents and eight for adults — were due to be set up within five years. There are only three in existence and they have been understaffed.
Ms Butler said the €3.94m in funding will enable the establishment of three new teams and the proper staffing of three existing teams.
This is supposed to involve a total recruitment of 47 new staff, with just an estimated 23 staff currently employed.
“Premises are already under development for the expansion of the adult community team at the Mount Carmel site in Dublin, and this is expected to be completed by the end of 2021,” she said. “Recruitment is progressing well for all teams.”
Speaking in the Dáil, Ms Butler said there are currently two eating disorder specialist community teams based in CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services). One is the CHO4 Cork and Kerry Regional Eating Disorder Service CAREDS (operational since May 2019).
The other is in Dublin based in CHO 7 Linn Dara Community Eating Disorder Service LDCEDS (operational since April 2018).
She said funding has been made available in 2021 to progress the recruitment of an additional CAMHS based eating disorder specialist community team in CHO2 (Galway, Mayo and Roscommon).
One adult hub will be set up in CHO 4 Cork and Kerry, while the remaining hub will cover CHO 8 and 9, covering north Dublin, Laois, Offaly, Longford, Westmeath, Louth, and Meath.
There are two in-patient CAMHS units with specialist eating disorder beds — Linn Dara in Dublin (eight beds) and Merlin Park in Galway (six beds).
The minister said there are plans for an eating disorder unit (eight beds) in the National Children’s Hospital, when built.