For adults with an eating disorder, the NHS Long Term Plan has made a renewed commitment that mental health services will grow faster than the overall National Health Service budget, with additional investment worth at least £2.3 billion a year by 2023/24. This includes investment in community-based adult eating disorder services as part of the Plan’s commitment to transform community-based care for adults with mental health needs.
The NHS is also investing over £30 million in services every year to meet and maintain ambitious waiting targets, with 70 community treatment teams now covering the whole of the country so that more children and young people can get eating disorder care closer to home and out of hospital.
As part of a broader programme of work on community based mental health care for adults, alongside work to explore the effectiveness of different approaches to integrated delivery with primary care and starting this summer, NHS England will test four-week waiting times for adult and older adult community mental health teams with selected local areas to build understanding of how best to introduce ambitious but achievable improvements to access, quality of care and outcomes. In doing so, NHS England will also consider the interfaces with specialist community mental health services, particularly where there is an existing evidence base for rapid direct access (such as eating disorders).
Learning from these test sites about the required inputs to increase access and reduce waits will inform future policy discussions about a suitable timeframe for implementation of any future access and waiting time targets, for core community provision or for specialist provision.