GPs 'failing to help people with eating disorders'

GPs are failing to help people suffering from eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, a charity said today.

A new report from the charity Beat found that only 15 per cent of sufferers felt their GP understood their disorder or knew how to help them.

Many thought their GP was not up-to-date on eating disorders and some believed he or she did not take them seriously.

Some GPs told patients they were "going through a phase" or had embarked on a diet "gone wrong".

The report comes after figures released last week showed a rise in the number of young girls admitted to hospital with anorexia.

Over the last decade, the number of admissions among girls aged 16 and under in England jumped 80 per cent, from 256 in 1996/97 to 462 in 2006/07.

Beat chief executive Susan Ringwood said the rise could be down to a "wait and see" attitude in primary care, with young girls only being admitted when they were seriously ill.

Today's report, based on a survey of 1,500 people with eating disorders, found that many sufferers did not think their GP was knowledgeable about treatments or how to access them.

The report said a patient's recovery was not about choice - a current NHS buzz word - but was entirely down to chance, "with the odds stacked against them".

One patient told the charity: "I felt as if my weight had to drop before the GP would take my worries seriously" while another said: "When I first went to see my GP they didn't listen at all. They just told me it was a phase I was going through."

Another sufferer said: "I left the doctors feeling disheartened, patronised and as if I was making a big fuss about nothing."

Guidelines for the NHS from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) were an excellent tool for GPs but implementation varied across the country, the charity said.

The guidelines set out how recovery is possible, provided GPs listen to their patients, act quickly and, in the case of young people, involve their families as much as possible.

Eating disorders are estimated to affect more than 1.1 million people in the UK.

Launching the report, Ms Ringwood congratulated Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who acknowledged last week that late diagnosis of eating disorders was an issue.

"Gordon Brown has just become the first Prime Minister to acknowledge the problem of eating disorders," she said.

"The Prime Minister admitted that treatment for eating disorders is not always good enough.

"He indicated this is something that the Government would work to change.

"However - despite these positive signs - we are aware that people affected by eating disorders still aren't getting the treatment and support they need.

"Only 15 per cent of the people we surveyed felt their GP understood eating disorders and knew how to help.

"This is a shocking statistic: it means that the majority of people encounter uninformed GPs - a huge obstacle to their recovery."

Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said doctors were aware of the signs of eating disorders.

He said: "One problem is that the group of patients we are dealing with - including bulimics who look as if they are eating normally - frequently present to GPs on a number of occasions before they open up about their problems.

"Eating disorders don't respect age or sex or social background; boys as well as girls are affected, old people as well as young people.

"Often they are associated with psychological traumas such as a death in the family or bullying at school.

"It often takes a while for there to be understanding of the problem, it's not very often that the patient comes to the GP and says 'I've got an eating disorder'.

"But doctors do know what they are doing and the signs to look out for and patients should be reassured of this."

Prof Field said specialist services, where patients can be referred, do need to improve, adding that the quality was "patchy" across the country.

He said the Nice guidance recommended patients were managed outside of hospital settings.

The rise in the number of admissions to hospital could represent a success for the NHS, perhaps because more services were available or more people are being referred, he added.

Suggested Topics
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

    £600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

    Commercial Litigation Associate

    Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

    Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

    £65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

    Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

    £40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

    Day In a Page

    Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

    The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

    What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
    Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

    Finding the names for America’s shame

    The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
    Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

    Inside a church for Born Again Christians

    As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
    Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
    Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

    Incredible survival story of David Tovey

    Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little