Page last updated at 16:47 GMT, Monday, 20 October 2008 17:47 UK

Anorexic teen challenges NI care

There is no specialist anorexic centre in Northern Ireland

A 16-year-old girl with anorexia has won the right to challenge the lack of specialist treatment available for her in Northern Ireland.

She brought the High Court action in a bid to make the health service provide in-patient medical facilities for adolescents with eating disorders.

The girl, who cannot be named, is being treated at a London hospital, where her mother visits her once a week.

The girl's lawyers said the arrangement was causing family upheaval.

Granting leave to apply for a judicial review in the case, Mr Justice Weatherup ruled there was an arguable case that the public authorities had not taken into account the particular combination of circumstances.

The judge said: "When one reaches the stage that in-patient treatment is required for someone with anorexia nervosa it's easy to see that a life-threatening point has been reached.

"Secondly, it seems to me the fact that this is a child (there are) the right to life aspects that one must take into account."

He added: "Family therapy arguably cannot be provided in a case such as this where the child in question is located in England and the mother visits once a week."

The girl's legal team claimed the current arrangements breached her rights to life, family life and freedom from discrimination under the European Convention on Human Rights.

During the application, barrister Tony McGleenan also disclosed that more than 1m a year is spent sending children with eating disorders from Northern Ireland to England for such specialist care.

The case will now proceed to a full judicial review hearing in December.

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