Holly Cairns TD

The Government’s ongoing refusal to fund additional adult inpatient beds for the treatment of eating disorders has been described as shameful by Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns.

“Patients with eating disorders continue to be abandoned by this Government. Disgracefully, there are just three public inpatient beds in the country for the treatment of eating disorders in adults – all of them in St Vincent’s in Dublin.

“This is despite a Government commitment, when Simon Harris was Minister for Health, to deliver 20 new beds by 2023. In the past six years, there has been zero funding for the additional inpatient beds promised.

“There is an urgent need for increased specialised inpatient facilities across the country, in addition to the expansion of outpatient services and, crucially, improved access to counselling.

“Too often, eating disorders are dealt with as just a matter of bringing a patient’s weight up instead of as a mental health disorder. This is an area that is constantly under-resourced by the Government, despite eating disorders being the psychiatric condition with the highest mortality rate.

“At a briefing given today by Mind EveryBody, an eating disorders advocacy group, we heard harrowing stories of survivors receiving treatment from medical professionals who did not have sufficient expertise in the condition. There must be specialised training in this area for psychiatric staff, those working in eating disorder teams, dieticians and, importantly, GPs.

“There is also a need to update the 2018 Eating Disorders Services Model of Care, which is now out of date, along with the recruitment of additional staff for eating disorder teams around the country.”

June 26, 2024

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