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New eating disorder service for under 18s in West Suffolk

The NHS in West Suffolk is launching a new specialist eating disorder service for children and young people.

Eating Disorders are severe mental illnesses with serious psychological, physical and social consequences.

Anorexia Nervosa has the highest mortality among all psychiatric disorders and typically, eating disorders develop in the mid-teen years.

People with eating disorders often experience other mental health problems, particularly depression, physical illness, difficulties in intimate relationships and the interruption of education and work.

NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group has commissioned the new service with Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust for children and young people up to 18 with Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and related conditions.

Historically, West Suffolk has had an eating disorder service only for people aged 18 and above and the new service will bring West Suffolk into line with the rest of Suffolk.

Previously young people requiring specialist eating disorders assessment and care were referred to Cambridge or to other out of area providers if they needed in-patient admissions.

The new West Suffolk service will link in seamlessly with the adult service. Referrals to the Specialist Eating Disorder Service will be accepted from GPs and other healthcare professionals for patients requiring intensive community support for anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

Children and young people will be assessed for eating disorder if they are persistently losing weight when other causes have been ruled out or if they are exhibiting high levels of distress and distortion of eating behaviour.

In line with NICE guidance the service will comprise family therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Cognitive Analytical Therapy, nursing and support work with input from psychiatry and dietetics.

The consultant psychiatrist would provide direct clinical input and consultative input to clinical and therapeutic staff and clinical supervision will be provided by a senior psychologist.

Benefits of a diagnosis

  • Early identification of eating disorders and therefore more likelihood of successful outcomes for the individual.
  • Service user’s symptoms of mental illness and psychological distress will stabilise and reduce following assessment and treatment interventions.
  • Service users will achieve and maintain a healthy weight and physical status
  • Service users will achieve and maintain a positive perspective on food and maintain a balanced diet.
  • Service users are able to re-integrate with family and social relationships and education/training/employment.
  • Continuity of care for children, young people and adults thereby minimising disruption to family and social support networks and optimum lifestyle for the individual and their family/carers.