The NHS has released statistics on the number of children and young people with an eating disorder. They have accessed or are waiting for treatment, with the figures revealing that a staggering 2,121 children are still waiting for their eating disorder treatment to start.
Most worryingly, 10% of those still waiting are classed by the NHS themselves as ‘urgent cases’. Eating disorder experts UKAT state that the number of kids waiting for their eating disorder treatment to start in Q3 of 2021–2022 is 60% more than were waiting in Q3 of 2020– 2021.
UKAT’s analysis of the NHS data shows that 2,121 children are currently waiting for treatment to start, with 203 of those being urgent cases. Their analysis shows that 2,083 children were waiting for treatment to begin in the previous quarter during the last quarter, with 200 of those being ‘urgent cases’.
Further analysis shows that the number of urgent cases still waiting for treatment has risen by a staggering 136% in just one year, a trend UKAT’s eating disorder practitioner Dimitra Theofili says should be going in the opposite direction.
The most recent figures reveal that of the 1,918 routine cases still waiting for treatment, a huge 35% (681) have been waiting for 12 weeks or more since their initial cry for help. 580 children have been waiting between 4 and 12 weeks for treatment to start since their initial referral.
Worryingly, UKAT’s analysis of the figures shows that there are 203 children classed as requiring urgent treatment for their eating disorder who are still waiting for treatment to start – the highest quarterly waiting time stat to date – 56 of which have already been waiting between 4-12 weeks, and 73 (35%) are still waiting 12 weeks since their urgent referral for help.
The majority of urgent cases (107) still waiting for treatment to begin are based in the South West. A further 35 urgent cases are still waiting to get help in London. 19 urgent cases are still waiting in the Midlands, 17 in the East, 11 in the South East, eight in the North East and six in the North West.
Dimitra Theofili, eating disorder practitioner at UKAT’s eating disorder specialist facility Banbury Lodge comments: ‘There are now more children than ever who require urgent treatment for an eating disorder but who are still waiting for treatment to start. This isn’t good enough because time is the enemy for a person with an eating disorder. We must remember that these are children who have bravely asked for help but who still, some 12 weeks later, aren’t getting the potentially life-saving support they need.’
‘Eating disorders are progressive illnesses, and so the sufferers don’t have the time to wait for help. Today’s report must be a wake-up call, and we can’t continue to blame the pandemic on rising treatment waiting times. These children must get the help they need now.’
UKAT offers a free 24/7 confidential online chat service for those aged 16+ to get help and support for eating disorders.