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Government reverses decision to suspend funding for eating disorder plan

The Government plans to set up three new specialist eating disorder hubs in Ireland this year, re...
Paul O'Donoghue
Paul O'Donoghue

11.38 4 Mar 2021


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Government reverses decision t...

Government reverses decision to suspend funding for eating disorder plan

Paul O'Donoghue
Paul O'Donoghue

11.38 4 Mar 2021


Share this article


The Government plans to set up three new specialist eating disorder hubs in Ireland this year, reversing a move to suspend funding last year.

Dozens of skilled staff are to be recruited for the hubs.

Minister of State for Mental Health Mary Butler told Newstalk: “In total, 47 new staff will be made available for eating disorder services (in 2021).

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“I’m very happy to say the €3.9 million that has been allocated to eating disorders since 2018 will be spent in 2021.

"It will include completion of the three existing eating disorder teams in 2021, and it will also include three new specialist teams.”

The recruitment of 47 new staff would mark a significant increase on the estimated 23 workers currently in place across the three existing treatment hubs.

As part of Ireland’s eating disorder plan, 16 specialist treatment “hubs” are to be set up across the country, eight focused on treating adults, and eight on children and adolescents.

Each hub would have several staff trained for eating disorders, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, and psychiatric nurses.

The 16 teams were meant to be rolled out within five years of the launch of the plan in January 2018.

However, the plan was consistently underfunded, with funding suspended altogether in 2020.

Just three hubs are in place, none of which are fully staffed. This was despite a 66% rise in eating disorder admissions across Ireland last year during the pandemic.

Following protests from sufferers, parents groups and mental health staff, the Government now plans for three new teams across the country to be in place this year.

New hubs

The HSE breaks down different areas of Ireland by “Community Healthcare Organisations” (CHO).

A new eating disorder treatment hub for children and adolescents will be set up in CHO 2, covering Galway, Mayo and Roscommon.

There will also be two new hubs for adults - one in CHO 4, covering Cork and Kerry, the other covering CHO 8 and 9.

CHO 8 covers most of north Dublin, while CHO 9 covers Laois, Offaly, Longford, Westmeath, Louth and Meath.

Exact locations, such as whether the hubs will be based in hospitals, still have to be confirmed.

Minister Butler said: “We will have six teams in place in 2021, and the aim is to have two to three teams in place over the next three place.

“If we get the three teams in place over the next three years, that will bring us to 15 by the end of 2024.

"That’s dependent on recruitment of the specialist staff and funding, but I will be pushing very hard, it’s one of my priorities.”

Main image: Minister of State Mary Butler. Picture by: Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie

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