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‘Dangerously low’ eating disorder care ‘leaving families helpless’ - charity targets parents with new workshops

PUBLISHED: 12:21 19 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:03 19 February 2020

Debbie Watson has founded Wednesday's Child to support people with eating disorders. Picture: WARREN PAGE

Debbie Watson has founded Wednesday's Child to support people with eating disorders. Picture: WARREN PAGE

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Parents in Suffolk are being targeted with free workshops on what to do if their child has an eating disorder - after shocking statistics revealed young people with conditions such as anorexia are not being seen fast enough.

Debbie Watson has founded Wednesday's Child to support people with eating disorders. Picture: WARREN PAGEDebbie Watson has founded Wednesday's Child to support people with eating disorders. Picture: WARREN PAGE

Latest NHS data showed that fewer than two in 10 urgent cases of eating disorders in Ipswich and east Suffolk are being seen within a week, with Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) chief operating officer Stuart Richardson saying staff "remain determined to make further improvements".

Debbie Watson, who had anorexia for 20 years, said it was "devastating to hear that people are waiting far longer than they should for eating disorder treatment".

Now Wednesday's Child, a not-for-profit organisation set up by Ms Watson last year to help people with eating disorders, is organising a six-month free programme aimed at parents, grandparents and spouses.

The two-hour monthly meet-ups at Suffolk Family Carers' Claydon centre will involve expert speakers and hands-on activities designed to "upksill" family members to deal with illnesses at home.

MORE: 'Food focus' sparks spike in eating disorder SOS calls

Ms Watson said: "Our troublesome nationwide situation around eating disorder care and treatment is leaving so many families feeling helpless and isolated.

"The rates of eating disorders are increasing, and yet we have dangerously low inpatient capacity - particularly here in East Anglia - and ongoing issues of shortfalls in healthcare resource for this specialist area.

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"We're providing this six-month programme as a means of delivering much needed support, information, practical recovery-focused guidance led by experts, and all important befriending opportunities.

"It's a very new approach in an area which really requires more empathy and support, so I'm optimistic that this will be just our first intake programme, and that we'll be able to roll-out more in the future to help a greater number of Suffolk parents and spouses."

The NSFT, which runs eating disorder community services in the county, has a target to see 84% of urgent cases within a week.

However in November last year, just 18.2% in Ipswich and East Suffolk were seen, compared with 25% in West Suffolk.

The numbers of urgent cases can be small, causing a variety in percentages month-on-month.

Mr Richardson said in response to the figures last month: "Demand for eating disorder services for young people has increased nationally, while there has also been an increase in the complexity of cases we are seeing, often meaning more support, for a longer period of time.

"Our trust and commissioners have been working together to deliver services more effectively, such as by moving the eating disorders service into the newly-formed Suffolk children, families and young people's care group."

The dates of the programme's meet-ups are Thursday, March 5, Friday, April 3, Thursday, May 7, Thursday, June 4, Thursday, July 2 and Thursday, August 6.

Each session takes place between 10am and noon.

For more information, email Wednesday's Child referring to the Demeter Programme and confirming your name, location and a small insight into your experience with caring for someone with an eating disorder.


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