Eating disorder services ‘seriously lacking’ as nationwide protests planned

"I started missing lunches and small things like that at first."
Robert Kindregan
Robert Kindregan

19.34 20 Feb 2024

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Eating disorder services ‘seri...

Eating disorder services ‘seriously lacking’ as nationwide protests planned

Robert Kindregan
Robert Kindregan

19.34 20 Feb 2024

Share this article

Eating disorder services are “seriously lacking” in Ireland with “no communication” between hospitals, according to a survivor of the condition.

On The Hard Shoulder today, Ciara from Limerick said she was told by doctors as a young girl suffering from an eating disorder that it was a “fad” she would grow out of.

Her condition was not taken seriously until she entered cardiac arrest after “begging for support and help” for years.


It comes as protests are planned in Limerick, Cork, and Dublin on March 2nd to demand urgent reforms of eating disorder services in Ireland.

Ciara said she began showing symptoms at age nine.

“It was very slow at first, I started missing lunches and small things like that,” she said.

“I first got help at 13 when I went to the GP with my mother and was basically told it was a diet, a fad, and I’d grow out of it.

“As you can imagine, at 13 hearing that, I didn’t feel like I had a problem then.”


Ciara said her eating disorder began to progress over the years.

“I got sicker and sicker then until I ended up having to go into the psychiatric unit at 16 after I had collapsed,” she said.

“Because I was in between CAMHS and the adult units - as I was 16 - that meant that I couldn’t get the help.

“I was sent into a psychiatric unit in Limerick and to be honest, that time in there had a huge impact on how the development of my eating disorder progressed.”

Cardiac arrest

Ciara was eventually moved to a specialised unit in St Patrick’s Hospital in Dublin, after suffering from cardiac arrest, where she had a much better experience.

“Everyone there was there for eating disorders and the nurses were trained to deal with it,” she said.

“The comments you’d get in a general hospital would be ‘just eat’ or ‘just have a pizza’ – that’s what I was hearing.

“But when you go into a specialised place, they know how sensitive it can be.”


Now aged 34, Ciara said more supports are needed for eating disorders in Ireland.

“There are no transitional supports there between the hospital and the home,” she said.

“We are just left there and you’d be months waiting – that was my experience.

“Services are seriously lacking, there’s no communication between the hospitals or anything like that.”


Lauren from Dublin’s experience with an eating disorder began during COVID when she was 17.

“It got quite serious pretty quickly and I was really struggling with undereating and overexercising,” she said.

“I was very isolated at home, away from social circles – lockdown really affected my mental health.

“I spent two months in a general hospital with not much psychiatric support, unfortunately.

“I was still 17 and on an adult ward where you see a lot of things you don’t forget – I think it really affected my progress.”

Turning 18

Lauren said from when she became an adult at 18 there was “not much of a plan in place from there”.

“I actually spent another three months in the medical ward of a private hospital,” she said.

“The transition from being a child to an adult is very difficult.”

Lauren, now aged 20, added that her condition is “definitely better than it was,” but it can change from day to day.

Main image: File photo of a girl sitting covering her face. Picture by: Edward George / Alamy Stock Photo

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Anorexia CAMHS Dublin Eating Disorder Hse Limerick Mental Health Private Hospital Protest St Patrick's Hospital The Hard Shoulder University Hospital Limerick

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