The number of girls of 16 and under admitted to hospital with anorexia has jumped by 80 per cent over the past 10 years, figures released by the NHS yesterday show. The data was revealed in a parliamentary answer by the Care Services minister Phil Hope.
Susan Ringwood, chief executive of the UK eating disorder charity Beat, said the rise in admissions could be due to girls not receiving treatment early enough and were being left until they were very seriously ill. She said: “We think these figures are very shocking. But we don’t know, and the Government doesn’t know because the data isn’t collected, how many people have a diagnosis of an eating disorder.
“We can’t tell if there are more people actually suffering from an eating disorder or whether it’s just that more are getting admitted to hospital.” She said that specialist services were excellent but there were far too few of them. There had been some increase in capacity in the private sector, but very little increase in direct NHS services. Ms Ringwood also said that the implementation of guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence on eating disorders was “far too patchy” across the health service.
The shadow Health minister Anne Milton said: “We are failing to get across to young people today the dangers they face when they abuse food.”