Three eating disorder treatment hubs meant to open by the end of 2021 have been delayed until 2022.
The Government had pledged to establish a facility for children and adolescents covering Galway, Mayo and Roscommon, as well as two adult centres - one for Cork and Kerry, and one for north and west Dublin - by the end of 2021.
However, two are now aiming to open in 2022. The timeline for the third, covering Cork and Kerry, is unclear, but it will almost certainly not open before the end of 2021.
The series of delays come after another setback was confirmed last week, when the HSE said the expansion of a treatment site at Mount Carmel planned for this year isn't expected to be finished until June.
The HSE breaks down different areas of Ireland by “Community Healthcare Organisations” (CHO). The centre in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon would be in CHO 2, Cork and Kerry in CHO 4, and north and west Dublin in CHO 9.
On CHO 2, the HSE said: “Subject to successful recruitment, it is anticipated that the team will be fully recruited and in post by the end of quarter 1, 2022.
On CHO 9, it said: “The indicative timeline for full recruitment of the team to commence delivery of eating disorder treatment is quarter 3, 2022.”
On CHO 4, it said: “A number of recruitment campaigns are currently underway. A four-year implementation plan has been approved to allow for phased recruitment and training.” Newstalk asked if the centre could open on a phased basis, but has not yet received a response.
The HSE model of care for eating disorders was launched in 2018. Under the plan 16 treatment centres were to be set up across the country within five years, eight treating adults and eight for children.
However, just three treatment hubs have opened since then, with new development funding suspended in 2020. This decision was reversed earlier this year, with the government pledging to deliver three new hubs by the end of 2021.
The plan was to set up a treatment hub for children and adolescents in CHO 2, covering Galway, Mayo and Roscommon.
There were also to be two new hubs for adults - one in CHO 4, covering Cork and Kerry, the other covering CHO 9.
It has now been confirmed the unit at CHO 9 will not be open by the end of 2021.
The HSE has not yet given timelines for when the hubs in CHO 2 and CHO 4 will open.
The unit in Mount Carmel was an expansion of one of the three existing hubs, and would have involved transferring staff from the nearby St Vincent University Hospital.
The Department of Health previously said minister Butler was “disappointed” by the delay in the Mount Carmel unit, and said the government “remains committed to expanding treatment for those affected by eating disorders.”
Until last year over €5.6 million had been allocated to the eating disorder model of care, but just over €1.7 million of that had been spent.
€1.15 million in new funding was allocated in the budget this year, which Minister Butler said would help with the rollout of new treatment hubs.
Eating disorders have high mortality rates, with anorexia having the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Hospital admissions for eating disorders amongst children and adolescents rose by 66% in 2020 compared to 2019.