Rise in hospital admissions for people with eating disorders in Bedford
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There were more hospital admissions for people in Bedford with eating disorders last year, new figures show.
Beat – a charity supporting those affected by eating disorders – said early access to treatment is crucial as many people with eating disorders seeking NHS treatment experience very long waiting times or are turned away.
NHS figures show there were about 115 finished hospital admissions with a primary or secondary diagnosis of an eating disorder for people living in Bedford in the year to March 2023 – including 35 under 18-year-olds.
It was up from 75 hospital admissions in 2021-22 and 75 before the pandemic in 2019-20.
The figures are rounded to the nearest five.
Across England, there were nearly 28,400 hospital admissions with a primary or secondary diagnosis of an eating disorder in the year to March 2023, down slightly from 29,000 the year before.
However, it marked a 35% increase compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019-20 when there were 21,000 admissions.
Of the hospital admissions last year, 6,400 (23%) were children.
Tom Quinn, Beat's director of external affairs, said: "It is very worrying that hospital admissions for people with an eating disorder continue to far exceed those seen before the pandemic, and that in the year to March 2023 the number was only slightly lower than the record level seen in the previous year."
He added: "Early access to evidence-based treatment in the community is crucial to prevent the need for more intensive and costly treatment in hospital.
"Unfortunately, many people with eating disorders that seek NHS treatment are experiencing very long waiting times, or in some cases are being turned away."
The data also shows provisional figures for the current year, with 11,750 hospital admissions recorded between April and August.
So far in Bedford, there have been some 60 admissions for eating disorders in 2023-24.
Mr Quinn said healthcare staff are doing all they can to help as many people as possible, but the Government is "failing to give these services the support they need".
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "We’re improving eating disorder and mental health services, investing almost £1 billion in community mental health care for adults with severe mental illness – including eating disorders – by 2024.
"Capacity at children and young people’s community eating disorder services is also being increased across the country thanks to an additional £54 million government investment."