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No funding being provided this year for development of more HSE eating disorder services

Sinn Féin’s Mark Ward said there is “a lack of ambition and political will to deliver services that are so badly needed in our health system”.

THE HSE HAS confirmed there will be no additional funding for the development of eating disorder teams for 2023. 

In a response to a Parliamentary Question (PQ) from Sinn Féin’s mental health spokesperson Mark Ward, the HSE confirmed there is no additional funding to develop new eating disorder teams in this year’s National Service Plan. 

In January 2018, the HSE published a National Model of Care for Eating Disorders (MOC). 

There had been no pre-existing dedicated eating disorder infrastructure or strategy and this MOC document was developed in order to guide the provision of eating disorder services in Ireland. 

The plan aimed to establish eight adult and eight CAMHS eating disorder teams that would form the eating disorder network. 

An update by the HSE provided in response to a PQ from Ward shows that just two CAMHS teams and two adults teams are in operation. 

Five teams remain in development. 

“In addition to the nine teams, CHO 6 CAMHS locally funded and successfully recruited six posts in 2022 to commence an eating disorder team in line with the Model of Care for Eating Disorder Services,” the HSE said. 

This team began delivering a service in the final quarter of last year and has joined the HSE’s eating disorder network. 

The HSE said completion of this team will require further funding through the network to deliver a full outpatient service. 

“The recruitment process has been impacted by the challenges in recruitment and retention experienced currently across the health service, especially for consultant psychiatrists and dieticians,” the HSE said in its response. 

In a response to another PQ from Ward regarding 2023 funding for eating disorder services, the HSE confirmed that no additional funding is being provided this year.

The HSE said:

“In 2023, no additional funding was provided in HSE National Service Plan to develop the remaining eating disorder teams or to add additional posts to existing teams where required to meet demand and populated services.”

The HSE said it continues to work with the existing teams “to develop staff skills and provide expert training and supervision”. 

In the response, the HSE said that €8 million was allocated for eating disorder posts since 2016. 

In January 2021, Noteworthy reported that the entire amount of 2020′s development funding for eating disorder services was used to cover other areas of mental health provision. 

In a statement, Ward said there is “a lack of ambition and political will to deliver services that are so badly needed in our health system”. 

“There are currently only three inpatient beds for eating disorders. I highlighted last month that there is no plan currently to extend that number,” he said. 

“It has been five years since the Model of Care for Eating Disorders was published and yet the Government is doing nothing to deliver on this,” the TD added. 

“This Model of Care was originally a five-year plan, to be implemented by 2023,” he said. 

“The time for planning has passed, now we need action. There cannot be another Budget Day with no additional spending on eating disorder services.” 

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