- New data shows two-thirds of children and young people with an urgent eating disorder had treatment within a week
- NHS England data also shows nearly three-quarters of routine eating disorder referrals began treatment within four weeks
- The data is the first published on children and young people’s eating disorders
- NHS is expected to treat 95 per cent of urgent cases within a week and 95 per cent of routine cases within four weeks by 2020-21
More than a third of children with urgent eating disorders are not beginning treatment within a week as required under a new standard, NHS England data has revealed.
The authority published the first experimental dataset on the waiting times for children and young people with eating disorders yesterday.
The data, covering 2016-17, shows nearly two-thirds of children with urgent eating disorders are beginning treatment within a week. NHS England has set a target that 95 per cent of children and young people aged up to 19 with an urgent eating disorder should start NICE approved treatment within a week of referral by 2020-21.
Commissioners and providers will also have to make sure 95 per cent of routine eating disorder referrals for children and young people start treatment within four weeks.
The new data showed that in 2016-17:
- 660 urgent referrals out of 1,016 nationally started treatment within a week – 65 per cent.
- 73 per cent of the 4,227 routine referrals began treatment within four weeks.
- 32 clinical commissioning groups out of 209 were already meeting the urgent case standard and 21 were hitting the four week target.
- Only six providers out of 63 listed were already meeting the urgent case 95 per cent target and five were achieving the routine case standard.
- 81 patients were waiting to start urgent treatment and 548 waiting to start routine treatment at the end of 2016-17.
Quarter one of 2016-17 was the first time data was collected on children and young people’s eating disorder treatment and NHS England stressed it was still experimental.
NHS England said the number of patients starting or waiting for treatment is likely to be underreported because some providers and CCGs submitting data flagged up issues including: not being able to submit the number of incomplete waits due to not having a designated eating disorder team; and some providers are moving to a new system due to not being able to record eating disorder status on the old one.
An NHS England spokeswoman said 67 dedicated community eating disorders services are being set up nationwide as part of a drive to improve provision.
She added: “The data shows a substantial proportion of children and young people are receiving the care they need swiftly.
“It also highlights the scale of change underway by a major programme of work to improve services. Our goal is to ensure that increasing numbers of children and young people will receive swift, effective eating disorder treatment.”
Children and young people’s eating disorder services are a key part of the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health implementation plan.
Dasha Nicholls, chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ eating disorders faculty, welcomed the first indication of how well the sector was performing.
She said: “Early intervention is key in treating eating disorders and this shows children are accessing treatment more quickly.
“Such extraordinary progress so early in the process signals a phenomenal transformation in the way we deliver eating disorder services to children.
“We have a way to go to meet the target of 95 per cent by 2020, but we are definitely heading in the right direction.”