News

People with eating disorders ‘sent to Scotland due to bed shortage’

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt says sending vulnerable people hundreds of miles away for residential treatment is ‘clearly unacceptable’
Eating disorders

Some people in England with eating disorders are being sent to Scotland for treatment because of bed shortages, it has been reported.

They include teenagers and young adults who have been transferred hundreds of miles from home to residential care units in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Campaigners have voiced concerns that the practice is adding pressure to vulnerable people already in a life-threatening situation.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said it was unacceptable and work was under way to stop inappropriate out-of-area placements over the next five years.

From unit to unit

The Guardian newspaper spoke to the family of one 17 year old who spent time in units in Watford, Hertfordshire, London and Colchester in Essex, before being moved to Edinburgh for life-saving

Some people in England with eating disorders are being sent to Scotland for treatment because of bed shortages, it has been reported.


 Distant out-of-area placements for people with eating disorders put added pressure
on already vulnerable individuals, campaigners warn. Picture: iStock

They include teenagers and young adults who have been transferred hundreds of miles from home to residential care units in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Campaigners have voiced concerns that the practice is adding pressure to vulnerable people already in a ‘life-threatening situation’.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said it was unacceptable and work was under way to stop inappropriate out-of-area placements over the next five years.

‘From unit to unit’

The Guardian newspaper spoke to the family of one 17 year old who spent time in units in Watford, Hertfordshire, London and Colchester in Essex, before being moved to Edinburgh for life-saving treatment.

Anup Vyas, from Hemel Hempstead, said his stepdaughter was treated near their home in Hertfordshire for a rare eating disorder before she was moved from unit to unit across the South East.

He told the newspaper her condition is so severe that she is ‘basically being kept alive in Scotland’. ‘NHS England acknowledge that her being so far away is not ideal,’ he said.

The charity Anorexia and Bulimia Care’s chief executive Jane Smith told the newspaper: ‘I’ve seen a rise in calls from people saying their children have been sent far away, miles away, to be looked after because there are either no services nearby or they are full.

Life-threatening

‘This is a life-threatening situation for young people. People are in inpatient care because they are at risk of dying. They are in a very fragile, risky state.’

NHS England said £1.4 billion of cumulative funding will be invested in young people’s mental health services over the next five years.

‘The NHS recently laid out very clear plans to expand staff and services for specialist eating disorders and other mental health problems, in order to tackle and eliminate distant out-of-area placements,’ a spokesperson told the newspaper.

Ministers have also earmarked £150 million for enhanced services in the community.

Mr Hunt said: ‘It is clearly unacceptable for people to be sent hundreds of miles away for care at a time when they need the support of friends and family the most.

‘That’s why in April we committed to a national ambition to eliminate inappropriate out-of-area placements by 2020-21.’


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