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Paediatric eating disorder service

If elected in March 2018, a Marshall Liberal Government will establish a dedicated and well-resourced paediatric eating disorder service.

The Problem

Around 130 children and young people are treated for eating disorders in South Australia each year.

Eating disorders are dangerous.

Anorexia nervosa has the highest death rate of any mental illness.

One in 10 anorexia suffers do not survive 10 years from the onset of illness, with suicides accounting for 20% of these deaths.

While the Statewide Eating Disorder Service provides services and individual therapy for adults and adolescents over the age of 15 years, there is a gap for young people under 15 years.

Currently, the main source of mental health support for children is the Flinders Paediatric Eating Disorder Service which operates within the Flinders Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service but receives no dedicated funding.

Effective treatment can make a real difference to children with eating disorders.

It requires early identification and access to specialist care, and is usually provided on an outpatient basis with a focus on family-based therapy.

Evidence-based treatment is key to effective paediatric eating disorder care, with patients treated by specialist teams almost three times less likely to be admitted to hospital than those treated by non-specialist teams.

Despite this, the Statewide Eating Disorder Service is not resourced to provide Family Therapy for patients under 15 years of age.

Public outpatient services for paediatric eating disorders are dramatically understaffed compared with best practice.

Children who need these services do not have access to them and it’s just not good enough.

The State Liberals' Plan

If elected in March 2018, a Marshall Liberal Government will establish a dedicated and well-resourced paediatric eating disorder service.

We will act on the pleas of patients, their families and clinicians and commit $1 million a year to establish a paediatric-focused service within the Statewide Eating Disorder Service.

This funding will provide nine full-time medical and allied health clinicians and administrative support positions, with Local Health Networks providing some dietetic support.

Clinicians will be dedicated to both inpatient and outpatient services, providing better and more cost-effective outcomes for patients and their families and addressing the gap in services for young people under 15.

This will ensure best-practice services that will reduce the severity of the disorder and improve the patient’s chance of recovery. Such services have been shown to be 50% less costly to deliver than ‘treatment as usual’.

It is envisaged that a paediatric service could over time provide services at the Flinders Medical Centre, the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, the Lyell McEwin Hospital and, by telemedicine, to country sites.

Part of our plan for SA