New guidelines to lead to improved services for those with eating disorders

Doctors are to be given new guidelines for treating patients with eating disorders, the Scottish Government has announced.

Minister for mental health Clare Haughey said the change would give medical staff “more specific advice” and should help sufferers get the “best support available”.

There were 536 people across Scotland who were treated for an eating disorder in 2017-18.

And as many as 12% of teenage girls could be affected by conditions such as anorexia and bulimia, research has indicated.

The new guidelines, from the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN), will take into account the country’s geography, with specialist services not necessarily available in more remote and rural areas.

They will also give medical staff more advice on the medical complications linked to anorexia nervosa

Announcing the move at the start of  Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2019, Ms Haughey said: “It is vital that patients across Scotland have the best possible support available and I welcome the eating disorder guidance SIGN is creating which will give clinicians in Scotland more specific advice.

“Our ambitious 10 year Mental Health Strategy, backed by investment of £150 million over the next five years, sets out clearly how we can improve early intervention, and ensure better access to services, including specific actions to support people with eating disorders.

“Eating disorders do not discriminate – anyone can be affected by them and we are committed to raising awareness across Scotland.”

Sara Twaddle, director of evidence with Healthcare Improvement Scotland, of which SIGN is a part, said: “Studies tell us that eating disorders in teenage girls may be as high as 12% and that male eating disorders are increasingly being recognised.

“Moreover, professional and public bodies representing people with eating disorders tell us that there’s a need for a guideline on diagnosis and treatment that is specific to the needs of Scotland.

“The guideline will be for healthcare professionals, and there will be a version for patients and carers also.

“Our intention is that the guideline improves the care that people receive, and improves service provision and outcomes across all of Scotland.”

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