EDIP-S3 EP1 – Are services gridlocked, overstretched and poorly trained?



The last few weeks have been a total eye opener for me.

I’m a clinician in the NHS. I have worked in NHS specialist eating disorder teams in the UK and I’m proud of what my teams have done to help families to understand, take charge and recover from this vile and dangerous illness. Even with the knowledge that we could do more with more resources, we still leave work at the end of the day feeling like we helped to make a change. We get praise and gratitude from the families that we help, we see lives that were stuck in fragmented chaos slowly return to normal and we use research and studies to make sure that we are providing the best treatment that exists for eating disorders. This all adds up to a very safe and satisfying feeling as a professional.

But over the last few weeks I’ve come to learn that there are hundreds and hundreds of families that don’t feel as happy and satisfied as I do about the provision of treatment in the UK. For some there is a distinct difficulty in accessing treatment. I have heard stories about lack of understanding about eating disorders in GPs, A&E departments, Paediatrics, child and adolescent mental health teams (CAMHS) and more surprisingly, in specialist CAMHS eating disorder teams. Some families have had to battle for their concerns for their child to be heard even in the face of very clear and obvious physical signs of ill health. This has left some families scared, anxious and confused about what to do or where to go for advice and support.

So is this the experience of ‘a few’ families? Sadly, no.. this is the experience of hundreds of families in the UK. Many are turned away from services for reasons such as ‘your child doesn’t meet the criteria’, ‘your child needs to be motivated for treatment’ , ‘your child has another mental health condition that can’t be treated by this team’ , ‘your child’s Body Mass Index (BMI) or Weight for Height (WFH) is in the normal range’. These are just a few of the reasons stated by families – there are many more. More worrying, these families all share a common feeling – Their opinion and voice is not important and is often ignored. But the backbone if treatment in the UK is FAMILY BASED INTERVENTION.. How are we as teams missing this and leaving families feeling so isolated and dismissed?

In this episode I talk to Jen Haken and Becki Copely, Both parents of children with an eating disorder, both have many years of experience of navigating their way through the UK health system and both have a detailed knowledge of the plight of families in the UK as a result of the two on line support groups they run. In today’s discussion, we open the lid on the issues and difficulties associated with eating disorder treatment in the UK and have a very heartfelt and gritty discussion about the day to day struggles some families face.

As I said, this was an eye opener for me, and I want to know more. If you’re a professional you might find this a tough listen.. but let’s use this to inform change..

If you want to access the support group, follow the links below:

Parent to Professional-Eating Disorder Support UK www.facebook.com/groups/388803421922063/about

Eating Disorder Parent/Carer Support (UK) – www.facebook.com/groups/430874960395142

Jen Haken can be contacted on Twitter: @jenfer19

Becki can be contacted on Twitter: @Becki_edsuk

If you’d like to add your voice to the discussion, contact the Eating Disorder Insights Podcast on:

Email:- eatingdisorderinsights@gmail.com

Twitter:- @ED_Insights_Pod

Voice Message:https://www.speakpipe.com/eatingdisorderinsights

Music from https://filmmusic.io
“Modern Jazz Samba” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com)
License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

“Samba Stings” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com)
License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)


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