Updated: 25/01/18 : 05:50:54
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Sligo becomes centre for eating disorders treatment

The HSE has launched a new model of care for the treatment of eating disorders.

As part of the plan, adult and child eating disorder teams will be established who will develop hubs and mini-hubs throughout the country, to include Sligo, to deliver in-patient and out-patient services.

Eating disorders affect up to 5 per cent of the population and anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of all of the mental health conditions.

The HSE said the model of care is “a blueprint for how services for patients with eating disorders will be developed and continuously improved nationally”. It sets out for faster access to assessment and early intervention, with more access to clinicians with specialist training in eating disorders.

The Irish Times reports that a four-year implementation plan has been approved to allow for phased recruitment and training.

Anne O’Connor, the HSE’s national director for community services said the delivery of services relating to eating disorders have been “a bit of a postcode lottery”.

“We know there are parts of the country were you may be lucky to have a team that would be good at this or you might be unlucky and have a team who wouldn’t really be interested in eating disorders,” she said.

“This isn’t really how we want to deliver mental health services in Ireland.”

Ms O’Connor said to date €2.83million has been invested in the programme with more funding promised for 2018 and 2019.

Person-centred care

“People can and do recover from eating disorders and specialist evidence-based outpatient treatment is associated with faster recovery. The focus on early intervention to achieve clinical and personal recovery in this relatively young group is key to person-centred care and the sustainability of mental health services over their lifespan.”

It is recommended that eight dedicated child and adolescent and eight adult eating disorder teams be established which will cover population sizes of 400,000-600,000. The proposed hub locations include Galway, Cork, Dublin, with ‘minihubs’ in Sligo, Cavan, Kilkenny, Limerick and Waterford.


Minister of State for Mental Health Jim Daly said “the real challenge for us to focus on and to adopt a cohesive and coherent approach”.

“International best practice recommends most patients with an eating disorder can be treated safety and effectively in an outpatient setting . . .with that in mind, most patients will be treated by a hub team.”

The Cork South West TD said there has been “welcome changes in the area of mental health”.

“We have had to change attitudes to eliminate the stigma associated with mental health. However, and I think we all recognise, much more work is required in that area.”

Sara McDevitt, the National Clinical Lead on the HSE’s Clinical Programme for Eating Disorders said a working group was initially established to examine the provision of services relating to the illness.

“Most of us knew on the ground that we weren’t delivering eating disorders care in the way that we would like. We also knew that in terms of the model of care we were using in Ireland that it had fallen behind.”