There are just three specialist beds in Ireland for those with eating disorders, even though the disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental health issue.
Information obtained by Fianna Fail details that there are only three specialist beds at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin available for those with an eating disorder.
The beds are only available to those living within Dublin and Leinster, or children nationally.
There are also no dedicated, or in-patient, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) services to those in need of treatment for illnesses such as bulimia or anorexia.
Fianna Fail Seanad group leader Catherine Ardagh expressed concern over the serious deficiencies in the provision of public healthcare for those suffering with an eating disorder in Ireland.
Senator Ardagh said: “Those without private health insurance can expect a lengthy wait for assessment, let alone treatment under the public health system.
“For most, this leaves them suffering when we are all aware that early intervention guarantees the best chance of recovery.”
When contacted by Dublin Gazette, the HSE said that they have recently published a report detailing their future plans for the care of those with eating disorders in Irish hospitals.
The ‘Model of Care’ for eating disorders in Ireland report details several recommendations to aid in the development of a national network to have dedicated eating disorder teams throughout the HSE’s mental health service.
A HSE representative told Dublin Gazette: “The implementation of the Model of Care for eating disorders is based on receiving additional funding for same. To date, we have received funding for three hub teams … Recruitment is under way for these teams.
“It is anticipated that it will take 4-5 years to have all 16 teams in place.”
Speaking in the Seanad, Senator Ardagh said that the Department of Health estimates that around 200,000 people in Ireland are affected by eating disorders, with around 400 new cases of eating disorders each year. However, the level of care on a public level is leaving individuals to “suffer”.
She added: “People can and do recover from eating disorders. Those suffering from the disorder, particularly young people, can go on to live healthy and fulfilling lives but only if they have access to the health care they critically need,” she said.