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$26M boost for eating disorders getting results

Hon Tony Ryall

Minister of Health

Hon Todd McClay

Associate Minister of Health (Mental Health)

4 July 2013 Media Statement
$26M boost for eating disorders getting results

The Government’s extra $26 million investment in eating disorders services has more than doubled the number of dedicated beds and doubled the number of families being helped say Health Minister Tony Ryall and Associate Health Minister Todd McClay (Mental Health).

“The extra investment is also paying for crucial earlier detection and family based therapy for this very serious condition,” Mr Ryall says.

“Anorexia is a terrifying illness – it has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness but I am advised the improved treatment is making a significant difference to the mainly young sufferers and their families.

“The Government’s $26 million investment has bought fifteen extra dedicated eating disorders beds; five in Starship Hospital , one extra paediatric bed in Wellington, and a new nine bed residential eating disorders facility for Northern Region older youth and adults (Thrive), bringing the national total of dedicated beds to 27. The improved services began in 2009.

Mr McClay says the Government paid particular attention to expanding eating disorder services for children and young people which was the area with the largest gaps.

“The extra funding is also boosting training for clinicians, especially in the highly effective family based treatment known as the Maudsley approach,” Mr McClay says.

"This is crucial because many people suffering from this mental illness are very young, and the international evidence is that they are better off with the active support of their families when they are going through such a deeply difficult time,” Mr McClay says.

“Clinicians tell me the national roll out of training clinicians in family based therapy for early treatment, combined with inpatient facilities for adolescent anorexia, has significantly improved chances for full recovery of young people with anorexia, Mr Ryall says.

“A typical case is a fourteen year old girl spending three and a half weeks in Starship Hospital with an abnormally slow heart beat and hypothermia due to her anorexia. Then she and her family began family based therapy from home. A year later she’s back to goal weight and enjoying a normal life with her friends and family.

“Clinicians tell me without the extra funding for inpatient care and community treatment, including family based therapy, these young anorexics would quite likely have ended up having to be sent to Sydney for treatment because services were inadequate here.

“That was the situation we inherited - particularly in the northern region. But I am pleased to report that in 2012, 920 people were seen by specialist eating disorders teams in New Zealand, compared to only 483 in 2008, one year before this Government’s extra funding began.”

Mr McClay says the Government is investing in ensuring community teams around the country are working better together, and have stronger links to resources, training and support from the specialist services in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

“Eating disorders are complex and encompass a range of conditions that have overlapping medical and psychiatric symptoms. The impact on the person and their family is immense. The Government’s additional funding is ensuring that across the country, people have better care and support closer to home,” Mr McClay says.


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