- The number of under-19s waiting for urgent treatment has more than tripled during the pandemic, while the number waiting for routine treatment has more than quadrupled
- The number of under-19s receiving urgent and routine treatment has also reached record levels
- The Royal College of Psychiatrists is calling for additional funding announced by government to reach frontline services as soon as possible
The number of under-19s waiting for eating disorder treatment has reached record levels as services are struggling to provide timely treatment in the face of overwhelming demand, says the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
New NHS data analysed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists shows that while the number of those waiting for urgent and routine treatment has reached record levels during the pandemic, more children and young people are being treated than ever before. The analysis found that at the end of the first quarter (April, May and June) of 2021/22, a year on from the start of the pandemic:
- 207 patients were waiting for urgent treatment, up from 56 at the same time last year (270% increase).
- 1,832 patients were waiting for routine treatment, up from 441 at the same time last year (315% increase).
- 852 patients received urgent treatment, compared to 328 in the first quarter of 2020/21 (160% increase).
- 2,600 patients received routine treatment, compared to 1,347 in the first quarter of 2020/21 (93% increase).
Dr Agnes Ayton, Chair of the Faculty of Eating Disorders Psychiatry, at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:
“The pandemic has had a huge impact on children and young people with disruption to their schooling, social lives and home lives. Many young people have not received support early enough, causing their eating disorders to become much worse and harder to treat.
“Delays to treatment can put lives at risk. Services are struggling with soaring demand, fewer beds because of social distancing, and an ongoing shortage of specialist doctors.
“The government made an ambitious commitment on waiting times, but the pandemic has set us back years. Urgent action is needed to ensure children and young people with eating disorders get the help they need, when they need it.”
- Only 61% of patients started urgent treatment within one week in the first quarter of 2021/22, the lowest proportion since 2016/17, down from a record high of 88% in the first quarter of 2020/21.
- Only 73% of patients started routine treatment within four weeks in the first quarter of 2021/22, down from 87% in the first quarter of 2020/21.
The data on Children and Young People with an Eating Disorder Waiting Times for Q1 2021/22 was published by NHS England and Improvement on 12 August.