Specialist Treatment Pathway for Eating Disorders in Northern Ireland

DWED welcomes news that Northern Ireland’s Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) and Public Health Agency have introduced a specialist treatment pathway from those suffering from eating disorders. Significantly, acknowledgement has also been given to the high risk co-morbidity of diabetes.

The Eating Disorder Care Pathway provides access to a Guide for People Using Eating Disorders Services. This publication has been written by, and for, people who have experience of existing treatment, as well as their family members. The guide outlines what patients can expect from the referral process as well as including information on self-care and useful contact details. The pathway has also been developed with reference to the NICE clinical guidelines

An information leaflet for GPs, to support recognition of the signs of eating disorders and encourage a proactive approach is also now available. This includes a brief assessment tool for GP’s to identify problematic behaviour as soon as possible. In cases of ED-DMT1 or Diabulimia it is particularly crucial that prevention is introduced at the earliest stage to avoid devastating outcomes and complications. If a type-1-diabetic is omitting insulin they can be hours away from fatality even if not appearing obviously unwell and it paramount that there is an understanding of this by clinicians.

The guide identifies those with diabetes and eating disorders to be in a category of individuals in need of urgent appointments. It specifies: If it is agreed that you need to be seen urgently you will be offered an appointment within 5 working days.” DWED regards this as particularly encouraging and hopes that it will be of benefit to our members in Northern Ireland that are in need of help.

Welcoming the introduction of the guide, Ann McCann from the Eating Disorder Association NI said: “The care pathway guide for service users and family members will help them understand that good treatment is available here in Northern Ireland, and signpost them to organisations that can provide information and support for them and their loved one throughout treatment and beyond.”

Minister of Health, Michelle O’Neill, described the new pathway as “very positive.” She said: “I’m delighted that the care pathway recognises that mental health care should have parity with physical health care... In December, I will be receiving a report which will outline how we might wish to develop eating disorder services in the future and I will also consider the potential benefit from an all-Ireland approach in terms of pooling resources and sharing expertise on the island.”

All leaflets concerning The Regional Care Pathway for the Treatment of Eating Disorders can be downloaded via the Health and Social Care Board website at www.hscboard.hscni.net/our-work/social-care-and-children/mental-health.


By Claire Kearns.