Earlier care for eating disorders through scheme trialled in Leeds

A new scheme aiming to provide earlier treatment for eating disorders is being trialled in Leeds.

The city is the first outside London to be involved in the First Episode and Rapid Early Intervention Service for Young Adults with Eating Disorders (FREED).

Previous research has shown that the project speeds up treatment, promotes more rapid recovery and improves prognosis.

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It started at the Seacroft-based Yorkshire Centre for Eating Disorders, run by Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, in January.

Dr William Rhys Jones, consultant psychiatrist and clinical lead at the centre, said the study will “potentially transform” the care and lives of young people with eating disorders.

“Despite FREED having only gone live in Leeds in January, we are already seeing the benefits. People’s recovery is brought forward so much and we are seeing patients engage in treatment more than ever before which is often a challenge when treating conditions such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. We are also hearing great things from family and carers and we envisage that this will shift the way eating disorders services are run nationally in the future.”

The service is for people aged 18 to 25 who have developed an eating disorder within the last three years.

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Alice Thomson, 24, who is in recovery from anorexia, said: “When you have an eating disorder, if there is any delay in receiving treatment, it can make you question whether your illness is important. In a lot of cases, people are desperate and they will get worse and worse to ensure they get help.”