Eating disorders are serious and complex mental illnesses, yet vital services continue to be under-funded by the Government 

Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns has called on the Minister for Mental Health and the HSE to explain why no funding has been allocated this year for public specialist eating disorder services.

“I was greatly alarmed to learn from Bodywhys – the Eating Disorders Association of Ireland – that these crucial specialist services will receive no funding in 2023.

“Since the HSE launched the National Clinical Programme for Eating Disorders (NCPED) in 2018, the funding model has been haphazard. For instance, of the €1.6 million allocated in 2019, none of it was spent, with no budget set aside for 2020.

“While funding was ringfenced for 2021 and 2022, we are back to a situation where no money has been secured for this year.

“Bodywhys has pointed out that people living with eating disorders, and their families, need access to a full range of specialist public services across all catchment areas and Community Healthcare Organisations (CHOs). I share their frustrations at this latest setback.

“In addition, plans announced five years ago for the provision of 16 dedicated eating disorder teams – eight for children/adolescents and eight for adults – are also running way behind schedule. While more teams are expected to be rolled out this year, just four are operating as per the model of care agreed in 2018 due to ongoing recruitment difficulties.

“For a team to be fully operational, there must be a consultant and multidisciplinary staff in place. This programme needs year on year funding to get to the end point of 16 teams, which is why consistent funding is so important.

“Eating disorders are serious and complex mental illnesses. This is an area that is constantly under-resourced, despite eating disorders being among the psychiatric conditions most associated with mortality.

“Minister of State Mary Butler and the HSE must urgently intervene and explain why there is such inconsistent funding when it comes to the provision of public specialist eating disorder services.”

May 25, 2023

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