Minister accuses eating disorder service of being 'factually incorrect' in funding row

Minister accuses eating disorder service of being 'factually incorrect' in funding row

 Mary Butler: 'All eating disorder teams will continue to be funded in 2023 including inpatient and outpatient services.'

The Minister with Responsibility for Mental Health has accused the eating disorder support service Bodywhys of being “factually incorrect” in a row over the funding of eating disorder services.

Minister Mary Butler was responding to a statement issued by Bodywhys in which it expressed “profound shock and disappointment that public specialist eating disorders services will receive no funding in 2023”. 

The statement called on the minister to “intervene immediately over the lack of funding”.

However, in a tweet, Ms Butler said she was “so disappointed with this factually incorrect post” by Bodywhys on its social media and website. She continued: “Eating disorder services are available. All eating disorder teams will continue to be funded in 2023 including inpatient and outpatient services. Recruitment continues at pace. Bodywhys is funded for 2023.” 

Bodywhys told the Irish Examiner its statement still stood, and it was not withdrawing it.

Funding allocation

Sinn Féin spokesman on mental health, Mark Ward had sought clarity on what additional funding had been allocated for the sector under Budget 2023.

A response to his parliamentary question was issued this week. In it, Dr Amir Niazi, the HSE’s National Clinical Advisor and Group Lead for Mental Health Clinical Design and Innovation, said that over €8m has been allocated for eating disorder posts through Government funding since 2016. He said it resulted in the set-up of the first three Camhs eating disorder teams as well as recruitment for the second phase of two adult teams and another CAMHS team.

But he added that funding allocated in 2022 was used for the continued investment in specialist eating disorder posts including a third phase of specialist community team development in two adult teams and one CAMHS team.

He added: “In 2023, no additional funding was provided in HSE National Service Plan to develop the remaining eating disorder teams or to add additional posts to existing teams where required to meet demand and population serviced.” 

A spokesman for the Department of Health told the Irish Examiner that: “It is factually inaccurate to claim that no funding is being made available for eating disorder services. They remain a key priority of Government and continue to be funded as such. Inpatient and outpatient services continue as normal.” 

He added: “Recruitment continues, with 60% of all funded posts in place to date. Funding for eating disorder services has been, and continues to be, provided consistently as a key priority for Government and as part of Sharing the Vision, our national mental health policy. Over €8m has been made available for eating disorder posts to date. Funding has enabled the set-up of nine multidisciplinary teams, the specialist training of clinicians, and the development of digital supports including online guided self-help resources to provide early intervention supports for people with eating disorders.” 

He continued: “In addition, the National Clinical Programme for Eating Disorders has successfully secured additional funding via the Women’s Health Taskforce to recruit medical/paediatric consultants and hospital dietitians within acute hospitals to work with community eating disorder teams.” 

He said the HSE also funds private patients “in private facilities based on individual clinical need, as assessed by their local mental health team, and available funding”.

  • Support and helplines:
  • Bodywhys Helpline: 01-2107906 
  • Bodywhys E-mail Support Service: 
  • HSE Eating Disorder Self Care App.

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