Eating disorders strike all ages

Hollywood private Hospital eating disorder programs director Eileen Tay .
Hollywood private Hospital eating disorder programs director Eileen Tay .

Dr Tay said that despite an increasing number of patients aged in their 30s, 40s and 50s presenting to hospitals, no WA public hospital provided designated beds for adults with eating disorders.

‘These people have often kept their eating disorder a secret their entire lives ” throughout their careers, getting married, having children ” and have come to middle age still struggling,’ she said.

‘It is now a matter of urgency for WA to set up an agreed-upon state service.

‘A statewide service will ensure comprehensive care for all patients, particularly for those without private health cover. These patients have been consistently ignored by the WA public health system.’

A spokeswoman for Health Minister Kim Hames did not respond to questions from the Western Suburbs Weekly about adult eating disorders, instead referring to the processes for children and adolescents.

‘Children and young people with an eating disorder, who do not require inpatient admission, may undertake an outpatient eating disorders program based at PMH,’ she said.

Australian Medical Association WA president Richard Choong said dedicated beds for young people, especially adolescents, had served WA health well but that attention also needed to focus on older people.

‘There is evidence that dedicated beds for older age groups is increasingly becoming vital to our approach on this issue and the community must have confidence that everything is being done to tackle this health scourge,’ he said.

WA Mental Health Commissioner Eddie Bartnik said any child, adolescent or adult who presented with severe eating disorders could be admitted to a public hospital for treatment.

‘Severe eating disorders are acknowledged as a significant health condition,’ Mr Bartnik said.

The Butterfly Foundation national communications manager Sarah Spence said designated beds for eating disorder patients would take pressure off public hospitals.

‘Health specialists would be prepared with the training to understand the complexity of the illness and provide holistic care rather,’ Ms Spence said.

‘Not having designated beds in the public sector puts patients in risk of receiving inadequate care.’