Friday 15 February 2013

Yesterday's debate in parliament about eating disorders

It's Eating Disorders Awareness Week and, yesterday afternoon, a group of MPs spent three hours discussing eating disorders. I watched it, from start to finish, and was riveted. I believe you can still watch the three hour discussion here. Well worth viewing if you have the time - or just listen to it on your PC while you get on with something else.

Of course there was the usual emphasis on body image, media, etc, but on the whole I thought it was rather excellent. These MPs had taken the time to really get to grips with what eating disorders are about and the problems patients and parents are facing here in the UK, for example poor care at initial presentation level (GPs) and the patchy levels of good care around the UK, not to mention the false economies of poor or no treatment not to mention the cost in terms of lives.

One MP was himself a former anorexia sufferer and talked about his own experiences, dispelling the myth that eating disorders are 'caused' by media portrayal of size zero models, etc.

Oh, and they raised the important issue of older adolescents having the legal right to refuse treatment regardless of what their parents want and having to sign for hospital admission. They argued the case that very ill patients are unable to make rational decisions of this nature and that, given the choice (or rather the 'ED voice's choice'), they would all too often say no to treatment.

They also argued that the other option of 'sectioning' patients can be too extreme mainly (from what I gathered and can remember from watching this debate) because (a) a patient has to be very seriously ill in order to be sectioned and (b) because this remains on patient's medical records for life and can exclude them from certain careers, etc. They argued that there must be a change to the law in order to give parents more power.

I only wish that more MPs could have been present.

Fingers crossed it will have some effect.

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