The average age of a person admitted to hospital because of an eating disorder in Wales is just 25 years old.
Patient Episode Database for Wales figures, released at the end of last year, show that during 2017- 18 there were 217 hospital admissions for eating disorders across the country.
As part of Eating Disorders Awareness week this week, Welsh Conservative leader Paul Davies is among those who have taken to social media backing a national campaign to spread information about eating disorders. The party is also continuing to push the Welsh Government to do more to ensure suffers are given the help they need, without a lengthy wait.
Despite calls from charities and officials, there is still currently no referral to treatment waiting time standard for people with eating disorders in Wales.
An often lengthy wait exacerbates the struggle of patients who may be seeking help as a last resort. Welsh NHS waiting times come on top of an average of 149 weeks which pass before those experiencing eating disorder symptoms seek help. That’s almost three years, 37 months or 1,043 days.
Across Wales these often life-threatening disorders took 6,320 hospital bed-days in 2017-18.
The greatest number of people impacted by eating disorders are registered with Cym Taf University Health Board, with 43 admissions in a year, taking a total of 2,952 bed days.
Comparatively, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board admitted 42 people with eating disorders, with 655 bed days taken.
Patients are predominately female across most of Wales, but the greatest number of male admissions were recorded by the Hywel Dda University Health Board, with men making up half (17 out of 34) of all patients admitted with eating disorders.
Angela Burns, Shadow Minister for Health, commented:
“In Wales, many people wait far too long to receive treatment. Eating disorders can have a devastating effect on the health and well-being of those who are suffering with them, which makes early intervention and treatment crucial.
“The introduction of the waiting times target in England has been a significant step forward in acknowledging the vital importance of timely treatment for people diagnosed with eating disorders, and gives those with a diagnosis the confidence to be treated in a timely manner.
“I call on the Welsh Government to introduce similar initiatives within NHS Wales to ensure people with eating disorders can expect to receive timely treatment, and if not, to hold their waiting time against a national standard.”