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'Lonely and isolated': Eating disorder patient sent 400 miles for help

PUBLISHED: 08:16 25 November 2019

Emily Gasparro, 20, from Swanton Abbott, has been sent to Glasgow for treatment for an eating disorder. Picture: Emily Gasparro

Emily Gasparro, 20, from Swanton Abbott, has been sent to Glasgow for treatment for an eating disorder. Picture: Emily Gasparro

Emily Gasparro

A young woman suffering from an eating disorder has been sent 400 miles away to Scotland due to a chronic bed shortage in Norfolk.

Emily Gasparro, 20, from Swanton Abbott, with her parents Tony and Louise Gasparro. Picture: Emily GasparroEmily Gasparro, 20, from Swanton Abbott, with her parents Tony and Louise Gasparro. Picture: Emily Gasparro

Emily Gasparro, 20, from Swanton Abbott, is an eight-hour drive away from her family and friends and is desperate to be closer to home.

Miss Gasparro was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa from the age of 11 and has been in and out of hospital ever since.

More recently, she was treated at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, and later at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

But in July this year, she was told there were no beds available in the area, so she was sent 400 miles away to the Priory Hospital in Glasgow.

"Being hundreds of miles from my parents leaves me feeling so lonely and isolated," she said. "It's so hard to fight without your family and friends to support you. It completely crashes my motivation."

Miss Gasparro is under the care of the Norfolk Community Eating Disorder Service (NCEDS), run by the Cambridge and Peterborough Foundation Trust (CPFT).

A CPFT spokesman said: "We are fully supportive of the NHS commitment to eliminate out of area placements. For some very complex cases there are very few places in the country which can offer the kind of highly specialist treatment some patients require.

"On rare occasions, patients are treated elsewhere in the country to ensure they receive the most appropriate care as soon as possible."

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The CPFT said there are currently three cases of an eating disorder patient being treated outside of the east of England.

Miss Gasparro said she was initially told she would stay in Glasgow for two months until a bed becomes available closer to home.

But four months later, she said the NCEDS wants her to remain in Glasgow for longer.

Miss Gasparro feels staying in Glasgow hinders her progress due to not having regular contact with her family and friends.

MORE: 'Family provides valuable support' says eating disorder charity

It has also been a difficult journey for her parents Tony and Louise Gasparro, who have spent thousands of pounds to visit her in Scotland.

Mr Gasparro said NCEDS has been supportive but he hoped his daughter could be moved closer to home.

He said. "It has been emotionally and financially difficult - it can cost around £500 for a round trip.

"When she was very young we'd see her three days a week, but that has now gone down to just once a month."

For Miss Gasparro, being closer to home means a chance of leading a normal life.

"I was socialising with friends and seeing family and volunteering," she said. "But here in Glasgow, I don't see anyone from real life for months on end."

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