Petition from Norwich-based eating disorder charity delivered to Department of Health

Eating disorder charity Beat delivered a petition to Department of Health. Photo: Beat

Eating disorder charity Beat delivered a petition to Department of Health. Photo: Beat - Credit: Beat

Norwich-based eating disorder charity, Beat, has presented a petition with 9,134 signatures to the Department of Health urging ministers to ensure all GPs are able to refer eating disorders sufferers to treatment without delay.

Research from Beat published in February, found three out of ten eating disorder sufferers do not receive a referral from their GP to a mental health service for treatment, despite medical guidance that stresses the need for immediate referral.

Beat also called for increased training for medical students specialising in general practice so that all GPs are able to properly diagnose the psychological and behavioural symptoms of eating disorders, so they can refer immediately.

Chief executive Andrew Radford said: 'We know that early intervention and speed in referring people with eating disorders is critical if they are to make the best possible recovery.

'Eating disorders are often misunderstood and stigmatised illnesses, and often people who have them don't feel that they deserve care or even realise that they're ill.

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'It's important that visiting the GP helps them towards recovery, and doesn't reinforce harmful beliefs that make it harder for them to access or engage with treatment.'

NICE guidelines say the outcome of a GP appointment should be immediate referral to an eating disorders specialist.

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Mr Radford added: 'This isn't about blaming GPs, it's about enabling the 50pc of GPs who didn't provide good care to be as supportive of eating disorder sufferers as the 50pc who did.'

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