Over the past week I've been busy talking to families about when anorexia entered their lives: how they first realised that something was wrong through to treatment. It's been a real eye-opener - and I still have a dozen or so more families to talk to.
What is coming across clearly so far is the fact that being treated for an eating disorder is a bit of a postcode lottery. Some areas of the UK are excellent whereas others... well... "could do better".
Likewise some GPs are clued up on eating disorders whereas others aren't. But thankfully most of those that aren't are eager to find out more - and happy to refer quickly. Not all families went via the GP route, however; they self-referred direct to the treatment providers (e.g. CAMHS). I didn't realise you could do this, but I do now.
The good news is that, so far, in my cross section of families, the initial treatment appointment came through quickly, sometimes in just days. Contrast this to our experience where we were told there would be a 18-22 week wait - and this was AFTER we'd waited for 3 or 4 weeks for a confirmation letter of the referral.
Some areas of the UK have specialist eating disorder treatment centres while others just have CAMHS. There is some really great private treatment available if you can afford it or if you're lucky enough to have good quality medical insurance (usually a perk that comes with a job).
Also, some areas of the UK have excellent eating disorder support services (which support the whole family), either funded by charity or part charity / part NHS funding.
This is just a snapshot of what I've learned so far. I still have more families to interview. And, of course, my findings can never be "scientific", as such.
But the way it seems to be a postcode lottery really concerns me.