Government to invest £150m to tackle eating disorders

Charlotte Robinson, 18, who suffered from anorexia, died in 2007. Photo: PA Wire

Charlotte Robinson, 18, who suffered from anorexia, died in 2007. Photo: PA Wire - Credit: PA

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and care minister Norman Lamb announce a £150m investment today to radically reform the treatment of youngsters with eating disorders and to pave the way for new treatment waiting times.

The investment will be rolled-out over five years and has been secured by the deputy prime minister in this year's autumn statement.

The cash will support schemes to get young people with eating disorders access to services in their communities with properly trained teams, making hospital admission a last resort.

It will also ensure a waiting time target for treatment is in place by 2016 and mean fewer transfers to adult services.

'These standards are incredibly important,' Mr Lamb said. 'Recognition for eating disorders is long overdue.'

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Mr Clegg said: 'Too often children with mental health problems are being completely let down, with many suffering from eating disorders that go unreported and untreated.

'We know that if an eating disorder goes untreated for more than three to five years the chances of recovery are greatly reduced, while incidents of self harm increase.

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'That's why we need to act now to transform the current system, intervening earlier with dedicated and targeted community-based services to ensure that we don't fail this generation or the next.'

Susan Ringwood, from Norwich-based charity beat which helps people with eating disorders, said: 'We know the sooner someone gets the treatment they need, the better chance they have of making a full recovery, so this announcement is particularly welcome.'

In August 2007, Norfolk A-level student Charlotte Robinson died after a battle with an eating disorder.

The inquest into the teenager's death heard there had been a five-week delay between the Paston College student's referral by a GP and an assessment by a mental health nurse. There was a further month's wait after her initial assessment.

It would have been her 26th birthday this Thursday and her father Chris Robinson, from Worstead, near North Walsham, said more NHS support was needed.

'We are encouraged to hear of Norman Lamb's and Nick Clegg's announcement that measures to tackle eating disorders are to be enhanced,' he said. 'If they honour their promises to the nation, Norman Lamb and Nick Clegg's efforts will serve as a lasting legacy to the short life of our daughter.'

Mr Robinson has campaigned for better treatment for those with eating disorders since Charlotte's death.

'It affects all ages and genders but is having a significant impact on the young and upcoming generation,' he added.

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