"The need for new services for eating disorders in the south west"

About: Devon Partnership NHS Trust / Eating disorders

(as the patient),

Orchard Lodge is a unit for youngsters with all/any mental health problems, and as such, is not the best place to treat youngsters with eating disorders. It is disturbing for them to be party to so much disturbing behaviour.

Staff attention cannot be focussed on strict behaviour regimes, observing meal times, counting calories, or helping to distract the child between times. With the best will in the world there is too much else going on. Whilst anorexia is a mental health problem, most youngsters remain highly aware of their surroundings, struggle with depression, and are very conscious of what's going on around them. Children’s wards are equally unsuitable with acute admissions, surgical cases etc; meaning anorexics needs slide.

I wish it to be relayed that there should be somewhere in the SW peninsula that specialises in eating disorders with dedicated staff, a unit that can offer in-patient services but more importantly could extend help to families to put off an admission or intervene sooner when youngsters are getting into difficulty, follow them up etc. A sad observation is that families acquire such a trail of therapists and input which just adds to the complexity that is anorexia.

Certainly in Devon there is too little help early on, no support group, nothing. Once bad enough to register with 'the system' it does not have enough to offer in the way of therapeutic support and specific services. It's just not good enough to let these young people suffer and risk the problem embedding as a chronic problem. If you can't provide what's needed then accept that you need to pay for children to go to centres that can.

I am a mum with a recovering anorexic daughter and friend of several other parents with youngsters, some still in the system.

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