A trial which aims to ensure that young adults with eating disorders receive help and treatment sooner has launched in Leeds.
The Yorkshire Centre for Eating Disorders, run by Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, is one of only four sites in the country, and the first outside of London, to be involved in the national FREED study.
It went live in January, in association with South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), the Health Foundation, and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, where the team is being led by Ulrike Schmidt.
FREED stands for ‘First Episode and Rapid Early Intervention Service for Young Adults with Eating Disorders’ and is for young people aged 18 to 25 who have developed an eating disorder within the last three years.
Previous studies have shown that the FREED early intervention service model speeds up treatment for eating disorders and has a wide range of benefits, including:
• cutting waiting times, making patients much more likely to engage with treatment
• reducing dropout rates
• promoting more rapid recovery and improved prognosis
• increased patient and carer satisfaction.
The current two-year research study aims to see if this early intervention model of care can be replicated across other eating disorder services in the UK. At the moment, in many services, patients can wait months for specialist eating disorder interventions after being referred by their GP. With the new FREED model, they can expect to be assessed by a specialist and start treatment within 2-4 weeks from the point of the initial GP referral.
Alice Thomson, 24, is in recovery from anorexia. She has previously received treatment at the Yorkshire Centre for Eating Disorders, and agrees that early intervention is crucial: “When you have an eating disorder, if there is any delay in receiving treatment, it can make you question whether your illness is important. It can leave you feeling that you can’t really be that ill. “In a lot of cases, people are desperate and they will get worse and worse to ensure they get help. “I don’t think I would ever have recovered if I hadn’t gone into the Yorkshire Centre for Eating Disorders as an inpatient. I dread to think what my life would have been like now. I’ve got my life back and I don’t want to lose that again.”
Dr William Rhys Jones, Consultant Psychiatrist and Clinical Lead at the Yorkshire Centre for Eating Disorders, and an elected executive committee member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Faculty of Eating Disorders said: “We are very excited about being a part of the FREED study as this will potentially transform the care and lives of young people with eating disorders in Leeds and across the UK. “Despite FREED having only gone live in Leeds in January 2017 we are already seeing the benefits. People’s recovery is brought forward so much and we are seeing patients engage in treatment more than ever before which is often a challenge when treating conditions such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. We are also hearing great things from family and carers and we envisage that this will shift the way eating disorders services are run nationally in the future.”
Mary Franklin-Smith, the Yorkshire Centre for Eating Disorder’s ‘FREED Champion’, said: “It’s a real privilege to be involved in the FREED study and to be able to work within an early intervention model of care. “Being able to offer help quickly to those who need it is something that we all want to do. It’s important to each and every one of us that we can get straight in and offer the quality of care that our service users deserve.”
For more information, visit https://www.leedsandyorkpft.nhs.uk/our-services/yorkshire-centre-for-eating-disorders/ or contact the YCED: 0113 85 56400 / [email protected]