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Funding will 're-shape' eating disorder services

£250,000 is being given by the Welsh Government to support youngsters with eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia nervosa.

The money follows a long campaign for a dedicated unit. It will go to re-shape services, allowing more youngsters to be treated in Wales - rather than having to travel to England. Hannah Thomas reports.

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Welsh Govt 'duty' to protect health of young people

The Welsh Government says it has a "duty" to protect the emotional health and wellbeing of children and young people - and funding services for eating disorders will allow more of them to stay in Wales for treatment.

We have a duty to protect and improve the emotional health and wellbeing of our children and young people.

Where a child or young person has emotional problems, we know that if these are picked up and dealt with at the earliest opportunity, there is a much better chance of that person having a positive future.

Funding specialist services for the treatment of eating disorders will allow more children and young people to remain in Wales.

Just as importantly it will ensure, that the young person can maintain contact with their family and friends while they undergo treatment.

– Mark Drakeford AM, Minister for Health and Social Services

Funding to improve eating disorder services

Anorexia currently affects 1 in 250 women and 1 in 2,000 men.

£250,000 funding is to be given to help improve specialist services in South Wales for children and young people with eating disorders.

The funding, announced by health minister Mark Drakeford is to ensure Health Boards are able to provide new specialist expertise to work with young people and their families, and improve training and skills of existing staff.

Figures estimate around 56,000 people in Wales have some form of eating disorder.

There are currently no eating disorder clinics in Wales. Earlier this year, there were fresh calls for Wales to have a special in-patient medical unit to deal with the most severe cases.

The National Assembly's petitions committee will tomorrow consider the need for specialist eating disorder centres in Wales.

Anorexia sufferer: 'It's hard to be away from home'

Keira Marlow, 21 and from Brecon, had anorexia for four years.

She had to travel to England for treatment, and said: "it is quite hard to be so far away from home, and the travelling back and forth all the time is a lot to take on as well as trying to recover."

"If [a specialist unit] was actually built in Wales, it would be much easier for Welsh sufferers."

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Welsh Government 'committed' to eating disorder help

The Welsh Government say they are committed to providing care and support to people in need of treatment and they are reviewing the current services.

The Welsh Government has invested an addtional £1million every year since 2010 to sustain and develop services. Two specialist eating disorder teams have been established - one for north Wales and one for south Wales - to improve diagnosis, care and support for people with eating disorders.

For those few people requiring highly specialised care due to the severity of their disorder, care is provided at one of a small number of specialist centres in the UK.

– Welsh government spokesperson

'Specialist treatment in England helped me recover'

21-year-old Keira Marlow from Brecon suffered with anorexia for four years. She was treated by various different services, including a general psychiatric hospital in Wales. She was eventually sent to a specialist eating disorder hospital in Marlborough and then began to recover.

Not only did this hospital treat the physical damage of anorexia, through gaining weight and monitoring my medical needs, but it also helped me with the mental damage anorexia caused.

There is not a single eating disorder hospital in Wales. A Welsh hospital would mean that the Welsh government would no longer have to spend thousands of pounds every year on funding the inpatient stay of a Welsh sufferer in an English hospital.

A Welsh hospital would also help to reduce the stress of being so far away from home and would make it easier for family and friends to visit.

– Kiera Marlow

'We need an improved service for sufferers'

The chair of the Assembly group on eating disorders is calling on the Welsh Government to provide more support for sufferers. Bethan Jenkins AM says Wales needs a specially-dedicated unit.

The Welsh Government gave £1m over three years for the Eating Disorders Framework, but now its time for a new commitment. People will ask - how can we afford this in an age of cuts? But I am arguing that, first of all, we need an improved service for sufferers. And, secondly, a unit here may well turn out to provide better value for money in the longer term.

– Bethan Jenkins AM