No-one is claiming that FBT (Family Based Treatment) for eating disorders has a 100% success rate, nor that it works as effectively for adults with eating disorders as it does with adolescents. There are families where FBT has failed to help their child recover; indeed I know of some personally. But the reason why it is being rolled out across Scotland for families that request it is that studies and clinical trials have proven that it is significantly more effective in achieving a faster and more sustained recovery for adolescents than when alternative methods are used. And that, in my opinion, is as good a reason as any for everyone, wherever they live, to be permitted access to FBT.
FBT, in its 'purest form' as implemented by people like Professor James Lock, is also massively cheaper than traditional methods for treating eating disorders.
The NHS is permanently strapped for cash, so it makes sense to use a treatment that not only works more effectively but is hugely cheaper. To me this is a no-brainer of epic proportions and I just can't get my head round why it isn't being rolled out across the rest of the UK.
Sorry, but I can't. Call me a naive parent, but I just can't see why not.
FBT, as practiced by people like Lock, claims to take on average between 9 and 12 months from initial treatment to discharge. Compare this to the 5-7 years of traditional eating disorder treatment.
FBT also prefers to treat the patient as an out-patient, avoiding hospitalisation wherever possible. The costs this could save are astronomical.
And, by implementing faster, cheaper, more effective treatment with a more sustained recovery for the individual, as a matter of routine, across the United Kingdom, waiting times for treatment would be shortened exponentially. More young people could be treated: earlier, faster and more effectively.
Also, never forget that the vast majority of work is done within the family as opposed to intensive individual treatment with therapists - so this saves even more money and frees up even more places.
And savings would be made on Adult Services too because, by the time
they reach adult-hood, more young people would be free of this
From the individual's perspective, being free of their eating disorder several years sooner means they can get their lives back on track. Take my son, Ben, for example. If his eating disorder had been picked up earlier, say during the summer of 2009 when the alarm bells first began to ring, and he was fast-tracked into Lock-style FBT, and if he'd been one of the higher percentage of young people for whom FBT is effective, he could have had a normal Sixth Form at school. And the fact that his anorexia stole so many important years from his teenage life is something that has left him very, very bitter and depressed.This in itself adds to the number of years that an eating disorder can steal from a young person.
But most important of all, by the whole of the UK following Scotland's lead, our young people's lives could be saved.
So there would be less parents preparing their son's or daughter's funerals as will be the case with the families of the two young people who so tragically passed away from their eating disorders last week.
And this, to me, as a fellow parent, is what matters the most.
So, NHS England, you can stuff your red tape and reasons why it'd never work south of the Border. Train your professionals on an eating disorder treatment that's been proven to achieve better results and stop prolonging your patients' eating disorders needlessly or contributing to future deaths by continuing the post-code lottery nature of what kind of eating disorder treatment is available in a family's local area.
Presumably at one point in history, someone said rolling out routine smallpox vaccines for children would be far too complicated...