Eating disorders and young people

Our aims

  • The three service providers are looking at new ways of working together using digital platforms to enhance therapeutic service offers with developing a research and training hub.
  • We continue to meet access and waiting time standard alongside the increased demands due to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on children and young people.
  • Working with commissioners and all Greater Manchester stakeholders to improve the Greater Manchester service specifications is a priority for us.

Why this matters

Eating disorders (Anorexia nervosa, Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorders) are very complex psychiatric disorders.

Eating disorders are a range of complex conditions which typically present in mid-teens and have adverse effects physically, psychologically and socially on a young person. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric conditions.

Children and young people make up a third of the Greater Manchester population and it is forecasted that the 0 -15-year-old cohort will be one of the fastest growing groups over the next 5 years. The Office for National Statistics population estimates projects by 2025 there will be over 732,000 0-19 years’ olds in Greater Manchester.

Eating disorders are characterised by a preoccupation with food, weight, body shape and harmful eating patterns.  They have a high cost to individuals and their families/carers in terms of emotional impact, disruption to education and employment and in their access to physical and emotional wellbeing and mental health services through their life span.

The availability of dedicated, community eating disorder services has been shown to improve outcomes and cost effectiveness. If a child or young person starts their treatment in a general child and adolescent mental health service they’re more likely to be admitted to an inpatient service than those treated in community eating disorder settings within the following year.

To support the progress in maintaining alignment to the national targets, the Greater Manchester community eating disorders service steering group has developed a Greater Manchester service specification which was signed off by all ten clinical commissioning groups in November 2020. This has been developed to implement uniformity in service provision across the region and to facilitate greater partnership working between the three community eating disorder service providers.

What we’ve achieved so far 

  • Greater Manchester’s waiting times are better than both the north west and national averages at over 91% being seen within 4 weeks (at September 2019)
  • A reviewed Greater Manchester community eating disorders service specification
  • Greater Manchester focused training for the three service providers through the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership has promoted joint working
  • Strategic engagement between service providers and all stakeholders to promote an integrated care system approach

Community eating disorder service response to COVID-19

In line with other mental health services, community eating disorder service teams have continued to deliver appointments and support either online or in person for those who are not in patients. Further to this the service has developed a winter mobilisation plan organised around three priority themes:

  • Community resilience – through the purchase of equipment to enable more timely support and treatment; increase in staff capacity; working in partnership with voluntary and community sector partners to support service users and their families.
  • Core child and adolescent mental health services support – through additional staff capacity to deliver more intensive dietetic input to the most complex high-risk cases and an increase in physical health monitoring
  • Inpatient support – through additional staff capacity to deliver in-reach into paediatric wards where young people are admitted, working under the direction of a community eating disorder service practitioner; paediatric support and liaison between the ward and community eating disorder service and reintegration home aligned with the intensive home meal support; these practitioners will support paediatric wards and work in partnership facilitating discharge, provide meal support for struggling children and young people, support refeeding programmes.

What’s next

  • All teams achieving national targets for access waiting time of 95% for urgent cases being seen within a week and routine cases being seen within four weeks by April 2021
  • Working together to meet expected increased demand which will involve new ways of working
  • Expanded engagement with all stakeholders particularly the voluntary sector
  • Access to paediatric support and develop service to meet the needs of children and young people with Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder
  • Develop a Greater Manchester community re-feeding hub