February 2024: An NCPED update from Dr Clifford

Last updated: 26/02/2024

2023 has been a very exciting year for the National Clinical Programme for Eating Disorders (NCPED) with a further 6 teams starting to deliver services for children & adolescents and adults. This builds on pre-existing teams to bring the total to 10 teams. We have had successful recruitment of eating disorder clinicians and provided training throughout the year. Our training programme and educational meetings for staff are a key priority so we can ensure that people with eating disorders can receive treatment that research has shown to work best. We were particularly fortunate in 2023 to recruit interested paediatricians and physicians to work with some of our teams.

People with eating disorders can present across the health system and require care that is integrated and safe. We held our second annual HSE National Eating Disorder Webinar in March 2023 which was attended by large numbers of health professionals from a range of health backgrounds. We are delivering our third national webinar during Eating Disorder Awareness week 2024. Integrated care will be a key topic as we introduce Guidelines for the Management of Eating Disorders in the Emergency Department and Launch guidelines for the Management of Anorexia Nervosa in Paediatric Hospitals.

We continue to work closely with our partner Bodywhys who delivered 30 workshops to families and carers. A total of over 1100 families and carers attended Bodywhys support programmes during 2023.

As new teams started services we have seen significant increases during 2023 on the numbers of people accessing assessments and treatments with community eating disorder services. Referrals have increased and twice as many children, adolescents and adults accessed specialist eating disorder assessments compared to 2022. There were 200 more eating disorders diagnosed and more people accessed research proven treatments. At the end of 2023 over 400 children adolescents and adults were attending our teams. Overall referrals for eating disorders are 150% higher than in 2019.

The voices of people with eating disorders and their families & carers are essential as we continue to implement and improve our services. Through our colleagues in Body Whys we have convened a panel of people with lived experience to regularly contribute to our programme.

Throughout 2023 and going forward we regularly update the Minister of State for Mental Health & Older People, Mary Butler, on the progress of the NCPED. We are grateful for her support and commitment to funding future eating disorder teams.

The NCPED is looking forward to 2024 and continuing our work to deliver the Model of Care which is aimed at improving the quality of HSE eating disorder services for people with eating disorders of all ages and for their families and carers.