Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Part of Petition - Removal of Royal Mail Postal Collection – in the House of Commons at 7:09 pm on 27th February 2018.

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Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar Conservative, Charnwood 7:09 pm, 27th February 2018

My hon. Friend makes an important point. One of the key themes drawn out from this and related research is that it should not just be one symptom or factor that determines when someone needs help; there is a basket of factors and considerations that demonstrates when that need is there and when treatment is needed. He is absolutely right, therefore, to highlight that point.

As we know, GPs do an amazing job, but, as my hon. Friend John Howell said, we need to ensure that doctors’ medical training gives them the tools they need in this area, as in others, to recognise all the symptoms of an eating disorder; and to ensure that that training is kept up to date and that medical professionals are familiar with and follow National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines on eating disorders, including its guidance that single measures—this touches on the point my hon. Friend Matt Warman has just made—such as body mass index and duration of illness alone should not be used to determine whether to offer treatment or what treatment to offer.

The Government have made huge strides in focusing on reducing delays through investment and funding and waiting-time targets, but these targets are not always fully applicable to everyone. As my hon. Friend Kirstene Hair set out, the Government have a target of 95% of non-urgent cases involving under-19s being seen for treatment within four weeks. I understand from the latest figures that that target is now being met in 79% of cases. That is good progress, but there is still more to do. It is vital, however, that these waiting-time standards for accessing treatment also apply to over-19s. I would welcome the Minister’s reflections on that, and, of course, I reiterate what my hon. Friend the Member for Angus said and hope that the Scottish Government will follow the very positive lead set in this respect.

More broadly, I would also highlight the waits experienced for child and adolescent mental health services and adult mental health services more generally. In some parts of the country—I have highlighted this in my county of Leicestershire—delays in treatment can have a profound effect on individuals and the families who care for them. I hope that the Minister will touch more broadly on that bigger picture.