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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 October 2006, 06:47 GMT 07:47 UK
NI 'needs anorexic care facility'
Woman with anorexia
About 1,000 people in Northern Ireland have anorexia
Northern Ireland needs its own specialist unit to treat people with eating disorders, NI's only full-time specialist consultant has said.

There are currently 1,000 people in Northern Ireland with anorexia.

Last year, the government invested 1m to improve care standards for anorexics. It also spent 1m sending patients to England for medical care.

However, Dr Ken Yeow said anorexics should not have to leave Northern Ireland for treatment.

"Ideally we would like to be able to provide a comprehensive service for sufferers within Northern Ireland, but the reality is that it's going to take time to build up the expertise and to make resources available," he said.

Dr Ken Yeow
Dr Ken Yeow said more needs to be done to help people with eating disorders

At the moment someone with anorexia in Northern Ireland has to wait between four and six weeks to see a specialist.

However, one charity which helps people with the condition believes this is too long.

"People can lose an awful lot of weight in that length of time," said Jacqui King of the Eating Disorders Association.

"We are talking stones, we are not talking pounds. A case which was maybe borderline can become very urgent within that timescale."

When asked to respond, Health Minister Paul Goggins said his department was committed to improving mental health services.

He also said he had asked for an urgent review of how vulnerable patients in Northern Ireland were treated.




SEE ALSO
Four-stone teenager's coma risk
18 Oct 06 |  Northern Ireland
Family's fears for anorexic girl
17 Oct 06 |  Northern Ireland

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