UK sees inpatient treatment for eating disorders double in six years

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Recent shifts in how the U.K.’s government health system handles eating disorders have led to a huge increase in the number of people receiving treatment, according to recent figures released by the National Health Service (NHS).

The number of people admitted to hospitals for inpatient eating disorder treatment has almost doubled in the past six years and are now at their highest rate in more than a decade.

Data collected from NHS Digital show that admissions for anorexia and bulimia leapt from 7,260 admissions in 2011, to 13,885 between April 2016 and 2017.

The increase was most notable among girls under 18-years-old, who went from 961 to 1,904 yearly admissions over the course of the study.

These jumps in inpatient treatment rates could seem concerning, but they are more likely the result of recent NHS initiatives to improve treatment access than the result of a sudden wave of eating disorders.

The NHS has set a goal of providing treatment for 95% of children and young people with eating disorders within one-week of referrals by 2020.

This, combined with recent public awareness efforts, have made treatment more accessible and less stigmatized in the U.K. than ever.

In a statement, a Department of Health spokesperson said the increase is an encouraging indication of better treatment time and access.

We are committed to ensuring everyone with an eating disorder has access to timely treatment.

“We know the numbers seeking treatment are rising and it’s encouraging to see an increase in patients getting routine care within four weeks, as well as a significant improvement in treatment times compared to last year.

“Inpatient treatment should be seen as a last resort, that’s why we have set out plans to expand community-based care for eating disorders – 70 dedicated community eating disorders services are being developed and recruitment to get the teams up to full capacity is under way.”

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