Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are serious mental health problems. They can have severe psychological, physical and social consequences. Children and young people with an eating disorder often have other mental health problems (for example, anxiety or depression) which also need to be treated in order to get the best outcomes.
It is vital that children and young people with eating disorders, and their families and carers, can access evidence-based, high-quality care as quickly as possible. This can improve recovery rates, lead to fewer relapses and reduce the need for inpatient admissions.
The Access and Waiting Time Standard for Children and Young People with an Eating Disorder was published in 2015. The standard states that by 2020, 95% of children and young people (up to the age of 19) referred for assessment or treatment for an eating disorder should receive NICE-approved treatment within 1 week if the case is urgent, and 4 weeks if the case is routine/non-urgent. The ability of services to meet this standard has been monitored since 2016.
Between Q1 2016-17 and Q1 2018-19, the percentage of patients starting urgent treatment within one week of referral increased from 64.9% to 74.7%. The proportion of routine cases starting treatment within four weeks of referral also increased over time, from 65.1% in Q1 2016-17 to 81.2% in Q1 2018-19. Despite this improvement, progress has stalled in recent quarters and waiting times need to be reduced further if the 95% target is to be met in 2020.
In Q1 2018-19 (April to June 2018), a total of 293 urgent cases and 1,530 routine cases started treatment for an eating disorder. Children and young people were designated as being an urgent or routine/non-urgent case based on a clinical decision that was received and recorded on local IT systems.
219 children and young people with an urgent referral started treatment within one week in Q1 2018-19, and 1,243 patients with a routine referral started treatment within four weeks. However, some patients that started treatment had been waiting longer than 12 weeks since referral.
About this data
This indicator uses referral-to-treatment waiting time data for children and young people with an eating disorder whose wait ended during the quarter by starting NICE-approved treatment following an urgent or routine referral. The data covers children aged up to 19 years old.
For more information, please see the Access and Waiting Time Standard for Children and Young People with an Eating Disorder and NHS England's Risk of Disclosure document.