Protest to demand urgent reform to eating disorder services

by Rachel Cunningham
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Ireland’s first multi-city protest to demand urgent action to reform eating disorder services across Ireland will take place this Saturday (March 2), to coincide with Eating Disorder Awareness Week

The event has been organised by Amy Hanley, whose teenage daughter was diagnosed with anorexia in 2022.

The protests will highlight the critical need for reform of eating disorder services and call on the government to urgently address the multiple obstacles to receiving treatment in Ireland. 

A recent report by the Health Research Board found the number of child and adolescent admissions for eating disorders more than doubled in 2022 and the number of adults admitted to hospital for eating disorders was the highest in a decade.

However, the eating disorder support organisation, Bodywhys, said people admitted to hospital are just a fraction of the individuals experiencing one of these conditions in Ireland.

Protests will also take place in Cork and Limerick and a petition has been set up to be delivered to Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly and Minster of State for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler.

“No family or individual should endure the obstacles we faced in securing treatment for my daughter,” said Amy Hanley.

“It’s time to dismantle the multiple barriers that impede access to care for eating disorders in this country

“An often overlooked reality is that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate among all mental health conditions.

“While recovery is attainable, the flaws in our healthcare system can prove detrimental, often worsening or prolonging an illness. 

“Countless young individuals and their families across Ireland are needlessly suffering as they grapple with the lack of resources in the face of deteriorating physical and mental health.

“This is unacceptable. We need ourvoices heard once and for all.”

In January 2018, the HSE published a five-year Model of Care for community eating disorder care, which outlined a plan for sixteen specialist teams, eight for adults and eight for minors, to be in place in by 2023.

Eleven are currently in place but the HSE has confirmed that not all teams are funded to the recommended levels in the model of care.

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