7 April 2016

Charities to Fill the Gaps Left by the NHS- a Guest Post by Marg Oaten MBE

As Secretary and Co-founder of SEED Eating Disorder Support Services I am writing to highlight the gaps in services for those suffering from Eating Disorders within Hull and East Riding.

As a voluntary organisation we work in partnership with the Hull Evolve Eating Disorder Day Service as part of the City Health Care Partnership.

My heart goes out to those people living in the East Riding within the adult age groups of 18 plus.  All too often they leave CAMHS Services to be discharged at 18 with no network of support whatsoever.  The referral pathways within East Riding do not recognise Eating Disorders at Community Level and they are often put on waiting lists sometime as long as 18 months to 2 years for psychology within Specialist Services – often never receiving that appointment and often presenting in ‘crisis’ whilst they wait.  They may need in-patient services within a hospital ward or be sectioned within a psychiatric unit.

If you live in Hull or the East Riding and have a Hull GP then you are able to access Evolve Hull Eating Disorder Day Services, offering a range of services including meal planning and supported meals, face to face therapy and dietetic services and they have a clinical nurse in post to monitor medical risk.   Sadly if you live in Hull or East Riding and don’t have a Hull GP then this is not possible.

As a Voluntary Charity we have many years’ experience of supporting both sufferers and carers of this devastating illness; an illness that effects anyone who if part of their life.  Carers who are desperate make contact, as they see their Son or Daughter ‘lost’ to an eating disorder. It has the highest mortality rate of any other mental health illness with a staggering 20% of people dying every year through the illness or through suicide.  

Partnership working is the key with authorities coming together with the voluntary sector.

To think outside the box at times and recognise that there are exceptional organisations who give their time voluntarily to support others may be the way forward, and for them to be part of that ‘network’ of support.

Early intervention is the key and close monitoring of both the physical and emotional needs vital.

Let’s work together to make that possible!

Marg Oaten MBE
Secretary and Co-Founder

SEED Eating Disorder Support Services.

I wanted to end this post with an expression of thanks to Marg for writing this piece, and for the services that SEED provide.

I have experienced firsthand the enormous amount of help that SEED can deliver for those struggling, whilst waiting for help from the NHS. As many of you will know, I had waited 6 months for specific eating disorder help before being hospitalised in July. When discharged from this setting, I was told that I would have a strong team of support within the community, however, after waiting for another 6 months, I was still left with no psychological support. Last month, I experienced a major blip in my recovery, which highlighted how desperately I needed the psychological help, and with no appointments arranged with the NHS, my parents sought help from SEED.

Within the space of a few days, Marg had put a referral through for a specialist psychologist, and an appointment was arranged for me to meet with her the following week. I was exceptionally grateful, and after meeting with the professional at a very convenient time in the evening, I was thrilled with the rapport and understanding that I had built within one appointment. We discussed the areas that needed to be addressed, and established what methods work best for me. I left the appointment feeling very positive about my recovery, and I cannot thank SEED enough for giving me that extra boost and confidence in the recovery process.

Ironically, a few days after my private appointment, I received a letter from my community team. The letter stated that 4 appointments at 10:00am on consecutive Mondays had been arranged for my initial assessment with a trainee psychologist. I could not believe that after waiting for so long and arranging private help, I finally received the news I had been so desperate for.

Now, a few of you reading this may not agree with what I did next, but it was a decision that I did not take lightly I can assure you; I cancelled the community appointments. Firstly, these appointments were for an initial assessment, meaning that I could have attended all 4 and then been told that I did not qualify for further treatment. Secondly, the appointments were at very inconvenient times, as I should have been at work- this would have all added to the anxiety that I feel about letting people down, in this case my colleagues- even though I know how supportive they are! Thirdly, I had already established with the private psychologist exactly what I feel I should work on, and felt that tailor-made package was something I would not have been able to achieve with a community psychologist. Finally, I did not want to enter that cycle again of seeing multiple professionals at one time, as this did not work well for me at all before.

Please do not misinterpret my decision as that of being ungrateful towards the NHS- I am sure after reading my entire story, you will sense the appreciation I have towards this fantastic service. It was a case of still being left in the unknown. I had been repeatedly told that I was at the ‘top of the waiting list’ for 6 months, and I could not afford, for the sake of my health, to hold out any longer. This is why I am so thankful to Marg for stepping in when things came tumbling back down again. She is an incredible woman, which champions an incredible charity and service!

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