NICE has responded to feedback on its eating disorder quality standard to include statements on early access and coordination of care.
Waiting times have improved for children and young people, with an average of 81% now starting treatment within 4 weeks; the ambition is that by 2020/21 this will increase to 95%.
“We know people with eating disorders have better recovery rates when they receive early treatment”
During NICE’s consultation, access to treatments was identified as a key area for quality improvement. The standard recommends that children with eating disorders are assessed and treated within 4 weeks, and adults seen as soon as possible, within a locally agreed time frame.
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 time frame.”
In addition, NICE’s committee accepted the recommendations of a Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman report, that greater emphasis be put on the need to co-ordinate 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.”