RSS Feed

Related Articles

Related Categories

Doctors need training on eating disorders

1st November 2013 Print

Lives are being lost because Britain’s GPs are not trained well enough in recognising the psychiatric symptoms which result in eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia.

The charity Anorexia and Bulimia Care (ABC), which provides advice and support to people affected by eating disorders, has called for greater training for GPs at a special reception in the House of Commons. They say often GPs fail to offer patients or families any guidance, support or medical monitoring during the long wait for treatment.

They are urging MPs to ensure that doctors are fully informed about the psychiatric and physical health issues that surround eating disorders and are raising money to develop an on-line education site for health professionals.

Jane Smith, Director of Anorexia and Bulimia Care (ABC) said: “People with eating disorders need to access help for both the psychiatric and physical effects of the condition.

“With long waiting lists for specialist eating disorder services, and inadequate mental health provisions, people have to rely on their GP. Sadly GPs lack training and often insight and empathy for those with eating disorders. They are unable to provide guidance to sufferers and family members, or even provide the medical monitoring needed to prevent disordered eating from escalating into a life-threatening long-term illness.

“Because the NHS is divided into Mental Health and physical health we see many cases every year where people are not getting the full treatment they need. We are asking MPs to look at how we can provide a more joined-up service.

“Suicide is a major cause of death among people with anorexia. Eating disorders cause more deaths in those under 18 than any other mental health problem. Too often doctors simply see it as fad eating or a vain act, without realising they are actually dealing with a serious mental illness. Greater training and awareness among our GPs will save hundreds of lives.”

Tessa Munt MP (Lib Dem, Wells) who hosted the House of Commons event, said: “Anorexia and bulimia affects all ages and people from all walks of life. We all know that GPs have a tough job but we also need to ensure that they receive the support and training they need to recognise this growing problem in our society.

“With hospital admissions because of eating disorders running at over 2,000 a year, training of this sort could save vital NHS resources and money. Eating disorders also have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness at around 20%, so again something needs to change.”

Anorexia and Bulimia Care was founded 24 years ago to provide advice and support to people affected by eating disorders. The reception heard from those in recovery from eating disorders, parents who have lost children through the illness and physicians who treat those with eating disorders.