Cost of Eating Disorders to NHS
The direct costs of treating an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder are shocking in their own right. Eating Disorders Association estimates, based on information gathered during 2001/2002, put the direct cost of treating a patient receiving a basic 12 weeks of specialist in-patient NHS treatment at approximately £25,000. Private in-patient treatment charges for a 12 week course of therapy will be in the region of £24,500 to £45,500. As many Health Insurance companies are now refusing to cover treatment for mental health problems such as eating disorders, this means that only the wealthy have access to private treatment, if your Primary Care Trust will not pay for private treatment in the absence of local, specialist NHS facilities.
One of the major problems in securing adequate services is that no one is currently collecting any statistics on the incidence and prevalence of eating disorders. Indeed the most comprehensive research into service provision took place over 10 years ago in 1992 when a study by the Royal College of Psychiatrists 4 found about 60,000 people receiving some form of treatment for an eating disorder. Studies 5 in the mid 1990s indicate the total number of people affected by an eating disorder to be in the region of 1.1 million. EDA currently estimates that only about 9% of these people are diagnosed, and receiving appropriate treatment.
Many of the consequential effects are difficult to quantify in financial terms, however the impact on the person with an eating disorder and the people around them can nevertheless be devastating and have fallout well beyond the family circle.
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