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Radio fame and more funding for team supporting young people with eating disorders

Hertfordshire’s specialist team which supports children and young people suffering from eating disorders featured on national radio this week.

The team’s Advanced Eating Disorders Practitioner, Penny Smith, appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour on Monday morning just as a funding boost sees the team expand to meet demand. Penny's patient Lucy Priest, 18, from Hitchin, who has suffered from an eating disorder since she was 12, talked about the advantages of being treated at home rather than in hospital.

East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Herts Valleys CCG and Hertfordshire County Council have given an extra £110,000 to the specialist eating disorders team at Hertfordshire’s Child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) so they can recruit extra staff to support even more families and do more work in the community.

The CCGs and council are working together to deliver Hertfordshire’s £2m CAMHS transformation plan to improve emotional wellbeing services for children and young people over five years. One priority is to enhance eating disorder services, which are provided by Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (HPFT).

“We know that by helping young people with eating disorders sooner, they are less likely to be admitted for hospital treatment, which is better for them and their families, and costs less, too,” said Watford GP Dr Rami Eliad, who leads on services for children and young people for Herts Valleys CCG.

“We are so lucky to have such a dedicated and passionate specialist team working in our community eating disorder service. They really are unique and very much valued for supporting young people and their families through difficult times,” said Dr Prag Moodley, a Stevenage GP who leads on mental health services for East and North Hertfordshire CCG.

HPFT’s Penny Smith, who was interviewed by Jane Garvey on the popular show, said: “We’re getting more referrals than last year but are able to help young people sooner as we’ve expanded our team so that we can support more families, without long waiting lists and we can do more educational, preventative work with training programmes in schools.”

She added that a well-planned transition plan is in place to gradually move young people across to the adult team if needed.