Eating disorders programme

Eating disorders are serious mental health problems. They can have severe psychological, physical and social consequences. Children and young people with eating disorders often have other mental health problems (e.g. anxiety or depression) which also need to be treated in order to get the best outcomes.

It is vital that children and young people with eating disorders and their families and carers can access effective help quickly. Offering evidence-based, high-quality care and support as soon as possible can improve recovery rates, lead to fewer relapses and reduce the need for inpatient admissions. Dedicated community eating disorder services improve outcomes and cost effectiveness.

In 2014, the Government announced an additional £30m funding a year to support the development of dedicated community eating disorder services across England. The Children and Young People’s Eating Disorder Access and Waiting Time Commissioning Guide was published in August 2015.

The Eating Disorders programme promotes early access to effective, evidence-based and outcome-focused treatment working in partnership with children, young people and families.

In 2018-19 community eating disorder services for children, young people and their families will monitor service progress towards meeting the eating disorder referral to treatment waiting time standard (within 1 week for urgent cases and 4 weeks for non-urgent cases) by 2020 via UNIFY2 and MHSDS data submission – see the frequently asked questions (FAQs).

To support service improvements and development of community eating disorder services in line with the eating disorder guidance for children, young people and their families:

  • the Royal College of Psychiatrists established a peer-review Quality Improvement Network for Community Eating Disorder Services for Children, Young People and their Families (information is available on QNCC-ED webpage )
  • in each region Clinical Networks with support from Mental Health Improvement Teams bring together local commissioners and providers to support delivery of the service model, improve quality of care, and overcome challenges.

In partnership with the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health Services (NCCMH), the eating disorder pathway has been extended to include day and inpatient settings. This will be published in 2018 and will be in line with recommendations published in the NICE clinical guideline (2017) for the recognition and treatment of eating disorders.

For more information on where to access help please see the NHS eating disorders web page for all age groups.