Friday, August 09, 2013

An education in eating disorder services

It started with a tweet to my local MP during Eating Disorders Awareness Week in March, urging him to think about the impact of eating disorders in his constituency, my home town. 

The tweets and letters resulted in a meeting with Jeremy Lefroy back in April to arm him with the facts, figures, reality and seriousness of eating disorders, in a hope that he'll be able to raise HIS voice in future parliamentary debates. I'm determined that with his help, we can keep it on the Government's agenda and  he can support the work I want to do here in Stafford.

Sharing my experience obviously turned to talking about the care I'm currently getting at South Staffordshire and Shropshire NHS Healthcare Foundation Trust's specialist eating disorder service, The Kinver Unit in Stafford. As well as the care I've NOT had elsewhere. But I wanted him to meet my team and see it for himself.

That's what happened today. 

From L-R; Jennie Collier, Jeremy Lefroy MP, Dr Rob Dennis, Me and Service Manager, Fiona Preston.
Jeremy Lefroy and I met with Fiona Preston, Service Manager (who just happens to be my dietician too!) Kim Moore, Nurse Consultant, Dr Rob Dennis, Consultant Psychiatrist and Jennie Collier, the Head of Children's and Specialist Services Directorate. 

It was a chance for introductions, to tell Jeremy more about eating disorders in general and for him to get a taste of what the service does and who it helps. But also who CAN'T get support and who the service can't reach. The gaps, the issues, the funding....and we know health and hospitals are hot topics in Stafford right now.

We spoke about eating disorders, treatment, services, commissioning groups, prevention, education and how this service has developed and how it can improve. All starting points for the future. Mr Lefroy saw first hand the kitchens, art rooms, garden, bedrooms and dining room playing a part in turning round the lives of his constituents suffering with such destructive mental illnesses. 

From the point of view from someone who's fighting back at anorexia, I want to make it clear that I think more awareness and education is needed to catch the illness sooner and to help prevent it consuming people like it did me, and so many others. 

Yes, today he saw what a successful, established eating disorder service looks like and how it works and the challenges it faces, but wouldn't it be nice if it was needed less? 

There are so many things tackle when it comes to eating disorders, it's overwhelming to think of the mountains left to climb to help save lives and slash the stigma. But I figure using my voice to talk about the hills I'd like to take on first was a good place to start. This is just one of them.

So, watch this space, because I'm not stopping this conversation any time soon...

If you are worried about eating disorders or need to find a service near you, please contact UK eating disorders charity B-EAT  ASAP.


Brooks Newmark MP said...

An excellent blog and thanks for sharing your experience. I will certainly continue to be calling for more support on the issue of eating disorders in Parliament.

Sarah Robertson said...

Thank you for taking time to read my blog Brooks.

I hope we can keep it on the agenda and work with you in the future.

Regards, Sarah.

Lesley said...

Well done for raising awareness. This is an awful illness but it can be beaten. I was a sufferer 40 years ago when little was known about it. I was lucky and without medical intervention was able to overcome the control it had over me.

Sadly I know there are sufferers today who have experienced some terrible treatment over the years that have entrenched their condition. Some professionals want to write them off as Severe and Enduring but the very term gives them no hope. Without hope and positivity how on earth can they progress?

Mental Health Services are subject to cuts like the rest of the NHS and it is tempting to use local support groups to supplement the care that professionals should be giving. This does need careful thought. Transition from inpatient to outpatient services or a sufferer who is obviously deteriorating deserves strict professional input with clear care plans and risk assessments. offers a good example of how non NHS but structured positive support can be provided by a charity who are aware of their boundaries.

anonymous said...

Thank you for raising awareness about a dreadful illness and for making local mps aware about the changes we need to see in the treatment of eating disorders!

I have recently been a paitent at the Kinver Centre and I feel that they need to rethink their approach to treatment. Myself and paitents who were discharged at a similiar time to myself are currently struggling again-this is after a matter of months at home. We all knew we would struggle because we were unhappy about the weight gain...we struggled been bigger so it was a massive challenge for us to maintain this dreaded weight.

At the kinver centre the sole focus was on weight gain and I feel that professionals focus on that because it's measurable and it is the thing you can see. I can't argue that patients need to gain weight but that alone will not fix the issue. I was often told by staff when I was struggling "you need to eat that because its on your care plan" or "you have to eat that if you want to go home" but does that help me in the long run? Eat to get out? I had a review every 2 weeks where I was told about my "progress" which focused solely on if I'd gained weight! I feel people put so much strength and energy into fixing a physical symptom while forgetting I was admitted for a mental illness?! I'm not sure what the answer is, I just feel with so many people going back again and again- a revolving door almost- that the treatment needs to rethought.