Posted on: 1 March 2021

As Eating Disorders Week begins (1 - 7 March), CNWL’s Eating Disorders service in Milton Keynes has revealed its vision to offer support to people of all ages.

The development, taking place within the Bedford, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care System (BLMK) provides a service for children, adolescents and adults of all ages under a ‘lifespan’ model.

Carers support is also highlighted as an area for further growth and expansion with the support of B-eat the national eating disorder charity.

Staff in Milton Keynes will be working as an integrated specialist team to provide individual, family and group work to make sure patients have continuity of care regardless of age when they come into the service.

Manager Sue Wilson said: “This is an exciting time for the service. Service users have told us they wanted a smoother pathway of care and have more therapies on offer We are currently recruiting staff from a wide range of professional backgrounds 

“In line with this year’s theme for Eating Disorder Awareness Week the service is keen, within its expansion, to offer support to those suffering with Binge Eating Disorder as well as continue developing the service offered to people with Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa.” 

It’s been a challenging time for all eating disorder services across the country which have seen an unprecedented level of demand due to the pandemic and the vulnerability of patients.

Eating disorders still have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder and it has been vital to the Milton Keynes service to continue to support patients as best they can during the pandemic.

The service has been flexible in its approach to providing assessment and therapy, offering  a mix of remote sessions as well as some face to face support during the pandemic –typical to Eating Disorder services across the country.

Sue says: “We are very grateful to all our patients and their families for adapting to remote support which has enabled us to continue to provide care. We would also thank our colleagues in primary care and other agencies we work with who have also responded and helped us with the increased pressure at this time.”

The big issue for many people has been the isolation and lack of a daily structure created by lockdowns and social distancing. This has inevitably meant more time to think and more time on social media. Coupled with a pervading sense of uncertainty this means eating disorder thinking can thrive and offers a sense of control and certainty amongst the chaos of the pandemic.

Some patients have also been affected by fears that their ‘safe’ foods they are working on during treatment may not be available to them as the stories of supermarket shortages hit the headlines.

Sue says: “In recovery patients will be embracing a wide range of foods and food groups. 

“However, in the early stages of treatment sufferers rely on foods they feel safer with and, with support, gradually extend their food choices. The scaremongering stories of shortages has, for some sufferers, led to additional anxiety on top of their already difficult relationship with food’

“The final message from the Milton Keynes team is that there is always help out there so don’t suffer alone. If you’re worried about yourself or someone else seek advice from your GP. We also recommend the B-eat website; they have a wealth of resources including helplines and supervised chat rooms.

They also run courses  and a comprehensive reading list is available. Not everyone with an eating disorder needs to enter the mental health system and resources like B-eat offer valuable guidance and support to help you define your situation. Together we can all make a difference and ensure no one suffers alone.”