New Norfolk eating disorder scheme garners praise from victim’s father

The father of an 18-year-old whose death from an eating disorder prompted calls for reform has praised the work of a new county-wide service aimed at helping those facing similar struggles.

The death of A-level student Charlotte Robinson in 2007 led to the county coroner recommending improvements in the care for those with similar disorders.

And at the official launch of the Community Eating Disorder Service (CEDS) at Carrow Road yesterday Chris Robinson described the service as 'a legacy for the death of Charlotte.'

With a community focus, the service is aimed at adults, as well as those who care for them, and in its six months of service has received 104 referrals, made 114 assessments and worked with 60 users.

It currently has a specialist centre set up in Cathedral Street, Norwich, and Wisbech, and is expected to have a total of nine help groups set up across the county shortly.

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A specific helpline has also been established and efforts are under way to increase co-ordination and information sharing between CEDS and health workers and doctors.

Mr Robinson, of Worstead said: 'Because of this, there's a legacy for a woman who struggled with an illness but had so many other things going on in her life.'

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The service is being led by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust in conjunction with Beat, a national Norwich-based organisation aimed at fighting eating disorders.

The trust has run a similar service within its own region for seven years, and aims to provide faster care and treatment before the illness develops. It also aims to cut the number of referral stages before action is taken.

It was commissioned by NHS Norfolk last year, with an increased focus on community-based care rather than hospital treatment.

The change follows on from coroner William Armstrong's recommendations, and the efforts of Charlotte's family and North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, to ensure something was done after her death.

'For us it was a catalogue of errors,' said Mr Robinson of his daughter's treatment.

'It's a painful process for a family when you have invested 18 years of care and over six months you watch someone suffer and pass away in front of you.

'We didn't understand what was happening as there was no proper path of care, but now there is.'

Unlike similar services, CEDS works to targets, including a four day referral for urgent cases and 28 day referral for non-emergencies.

Also at the launch, which was attended by sheriff of Norwich Chris Higgins and mayor Jenny Lay, was 20-year-old student Sophie Lowe.

Having fought aneroxia and bulimia for four years she is now a representative for Beat.

She said: 'This will be important as it recognises the vast range of eating disorders, and I think it's great that individuals can access treatment regardless of their diagnosis, size or weight.

'It also means care teams are available, and in my experience having a great care team and their support is very important to recovering.'

The Beat phone number is 0300 1230115.

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