Thank you for contacting me about eating disorders.
I recognise the huge pain and distress caused by eating disorders, such as anorexia, the mental illness which kills more people than any other. Eating disorders primarily affect the young, and often prove to be family, as well as personal, tragedies if left untreated. However, with the right treatment, delivered on-time, these tragedies can be avoided, and full recoveries achieved.
I understand that NHS England has sent an ambitious new access standard by 2020: 95 per cent of patients are to be treated within four weeks of their first contact with a healthcare professional. Urgent cases will be treated within one week, and the worst emergency cases in children should find support within 24 hours. In May 2017, The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published its updated guideline on eating disorders, covering a range of age groups, including adults.
The Government is investing an additional £30 million per year, until 2020, to improve community care for eating disorders, which has funded 67 new or extended Community Eating Disorder Teams across England. I am pleased to say that the clinical guidelines put forward by NICE have recommended that patients will be treated at an age appropriate facility, which will ensure patients are cared for in the most comfortable environment possible.
Additionally, more money is being invested in wider mental health care than ever before, with over £1 billion extra funding into crisis care and perinatal services, as well as £1.4 billion devoted to transforming mental health and eating disorder services for children and young people over the next five years.
All of these efforts must be supported by initiatives to raise awareness of eating disorders, and I welcome Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which can significantly improve our understanding of eating disorders, and particularly their early symptoms. This will go some way to helping people seek the earliest possible treatment, and get on the track to recovery.
Eating disorders are an acutely distressing mental illness. With the right approach, and appropriate investment, I trust that the Government will be able to offer help, care, and a full recovery to those who currently suffer from eating disorders.