19 July 2013

Another step forward in eating disorders support for Bristol

Demand for eating disorder services has risen consistently over the last five years, with the South West seeing a greater rise than anywhere else in the country. Referrals to Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust's (AWP) own Specialist Eating Disorder Service (STEPS) have increased by around 50% since 2006.

First Step, which launches on 19 July, is an important response to that need for services and is a partnership between AWP and the University of Bristol Students' Health Service.

First Step is a primary care eating disorders service and will act as a gateway to the Trust's eating disorders care pathway, delivering evidence-based treatments such as enhanced Cognitive Behaviour Therapy in all GP surgeries across Bristol.

A successful pilot project in 2009/10, run at the University of Bristol Students' Health Service based at Hampton House, saw a 44 per cent reduction in referrals to STEPS from the practice.

The principle behind the service is to treat people effectively before their condition requires specialist help.  It also significantly decreases the length of time between requesting specialist help and receiving it.

Following the successful pilot, this innovative service model is attracting national attention, and already shaping the redesign of services in London and beyond. 

Dr Dominique Thompson, Director of the Students' Health Service, said: "The Students' Health Service is really excited to celebrate this innovative service for supporting anyone seeking help with an eating disorder in Bristol. We have seen dramatic improvements in our students who participated in the pilot, and the feedback has been consistently great. This service should significantly ease access to services for the whole city. We are proud to have led this innovation."

Will Devlin, the AWP clinical psychologist leading on the new service said: "First Step has been shaped by GP recommendations, and the wishes of people who use the service. We hope that this innovation offers people more choice and better access to specialised services closer to home."

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