A mother, an Olympic hopeful, a medical student, a waitress and a writer. In a recent article, BBC News asked: “What do the lives and deaths of five women tell us about how anorexia is managed and treated?”
It is heartbreaking to read about the deaths of Maddy, Amanda, Averil, Emma and Maria.
Gaps in treatment provision, waiting times, delays to treatment, a lack of GP knowledge of eating disorders, and insufficient record keeping were consistent themes across all five individuals.
The inquest sheds light on the improvements needed to eating disorder treatment in the UK, which is an urgent matter considering hospital admissions are on the rise.
Given that the risk of mortality is higher for this group than for other psychiatric conditions, accessible and effective treatment is vital if the risk of lives being lost or impaired is to be reduced.
GPs are often the first port of call for concerns about an eating disorder, as such, GP knowledge of eating disorders is vital. Especially when you learn that 13% of 16-24 year olds experience eating disorder symptoms.
Yet, in 2018, eating disorders charity Beat found that the average teaching and assessment time on eating disorders in undergraduate courses amounts to just 1.8 hours, and one in five medical schools do not offer any training on eating disorders at all.
Early intervention is another crucial aspect. Research has shown that the earlier people receive the specialist support they need, the greater the chances of a sustained recovery.
Treatment and support in the community provides a valuable option for early intervention and can help reduce hospital admissions whilst providing step-down recovery support.