NICE has made several additions to the standard since a draft was published earlier in the year, in response to feedback from stakeholders, including a parliamentary report.
In recent years, waiting times have improved for children and young people, with more than 80% now starting treatment within 4 weeks of referral. This is an increase from less than 65% before 2016 and the ambition is that by 2020/21 this will increase to 95%.
During the NICE consultation period, access to treatments was highlighted as an area for improvement. The new addition to the standard recommends children with eating disorders are assessed and treated within 4 weeks, and adults are seen as soon as possible, within a locally agreed timeframe.
Dr Dasha Nicholls, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist says: “Eating disorders can be absolutely devastating for people and their families. If left without clinical attention, a person’s condition has a tendency to become worse and harder to treat.
“We know people with eating disorders have better recovery rates when they receive early treatment and it is essential to have prompt assessment and referral schemes in place to help people get seen quickly.
“We are very excited to include a statement in the NICE quality standard emphasising this need to get children and adults seen by specialists as soon as possible and to recommend a suitable timeframe.”
In addition, NICE also accepted the recommendations of a Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman report, that greater emphasis be put on the need to coordinate care across different services.
People with eating disorders often have additional mental health problems, for example anxiety or depression, and may be in contact with several health specialists.
Communication between these sectors is crucial to ensure people with eating disorders are fully supported. This should include a detailed care plan explaining how the services will work together, NICE says.
Moving between services may also cause miscommunication about a person’s care and people must have their risks assessed during these transitions.
Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive at NICE said:
“We are committed to ensuring our guidance meets the needs of those who are affected by eating disorders and are pleased to have had the opportunity to respond to issues raised during consultation.
“By highlighting these areas for improvement, we hope that more people with eating disorders receive the best care, as soon as possible.”
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