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NHS Digital figures for England show an increase in admissions to all parts of the UK, with the pandemic also having an effect on the treatment of inpatients. From April to October 2021, there were 4,238 eating disorder hospital admissions for children aged 17 and under – up 41% from 3,005 in the same period of 2020. The figure is 69% higher than in 2019 – the year before the Covid hit – when there were 2,508 admissions for those under 17.

Dr Agnes Ayton, Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “We cannot afford to let this continue. Early intervention is the key to recovery and prevention, which is why it is crucial that the money announced by the government gets urgently on the front lines. The government also needs to put in place a workforce plan to tackle eating disorder service shortages so that it has enough staff to treat everyone who needs help. “

Tom Madders, YoungMinds mental health charity, said: “The impact of the past two years has left many young people isolated, uncertain about the future and with less control over their lives. It is clear that the government needs to redouble its efforts and ensure that access to NHS services is improved. “

In total, there were 23,302 admissions for eating disorders across all age groups in the 2020/21 fiscal year. This is a 13% increase from 20,647 in 2019/20 and up 21% from 19,244 in 2018/19.

Tom Quinn, Beat Eating Disorders Charity, said: “The number of hospital admissions is just the tip of the iceberg, and there are many more people in need of help. ‘aid. We urge the government to release data on the number of adults awaiting treatment and accessing treatment, so that we can better understand the scale of the demand and assess what improvements are needed. “

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