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To: NHS England
Save the Richardson Eating Disorder Inpatient Service in Newcastle
Dear NHS England,
Save the Richardson eating disorder service inpatient unit at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary so that very sick and vulnerable local eating disorders sufferers can be treated in this excellent and award winning unit, near to home and the loving support of their families and friends.
We call on you to provide local commissioned inpatient beds in accordance with NICE guidelines.
Why is this important?
People suffering from eating disorders are an extremely vulnerable group. The disorders can become so severe that admission to an inpatient unit is required in order to save their lives.
Being admitted to hospital is a difficult time for patients and their families, but for people with eating disorders it can be made more challenging by the length of admissions required for successful treatment; often 6-12 months.
Imagine if your son, daughter, mother, father, relative or friend was desperately ill with an eating disorder, where their life was in danger and the only thing that could help them would be to admit them to a specialised eating disorder unit.
That would be difficult; right! now imagine that not only did they have to go into hospital, but they had to do so hundred of miles away from home.
Currently in Newcastle if someone finds themselves in need of inpatient treatment they are no longer allowed to go to the Richardson Eating Disorder Service (REDS) at the RVI, a centre which has been providing the highest quality of care and support for people with eating disorders for over 16 years and has just been awarded the Beat award for Clinical Excellence. Instead patients must travel to the a commissioned unit, the nearest of which is in Darlington (almost an hour from Newcastle) and if that unit is full then they must go even further afield.
It is recognised by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) that this group of patients must be treated in a unit with access to specialists and just as important, that they are treated near to their homes, so that family and friends can be able to visit regularly and support them through the treatment.
So despite the guidelines from NICE, patients in the north east of England are being disadvantaged and made to suffer more by leaving their family and friends for months and months in order to receive the vital treatment they need.
At NEEDAG we are getting increasing number of patients who are refusing to go in to treatment because they have to leave behind their family and friends. They are literally putting their lives in danger because NHS England is not meeting the needs of this vulnerable and at risk group of patients.
We would like NHS England to reconsider the decision to close the Richardson Eating Disorder Service, it is clear that the north east of England needs to have more inpatient beds for eating disorders, highlighted by a recent review which showed the need for inpatient treatment for eating disorders in the north east of England had risen by 300% (greater than another region in England) and yet we have one specialist unit to meet the demand.
At NEEDAG we feel that the current service in Darlington is needed, but we question whether it is actually capable of meeting the needs of patients in the north east. There are currently no inpatient beds between Edinburgh to Darlington and yet as you go south of Darlington, you find inpatient beds in York, Leeds and Sheffield.
Given the evidence to show eating disorder patients need to be treated by specialist teams and close to their family and friends, NHS England is not fulfilling it responsibility to these patients in the North East of England.