NHS Eating Disorders Service in Cornwall

The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Eating Disorders Service started in June 2002 after a period of consultation between local people and the Health Authority. The Clinical Co-ordinator of the service is Chris Prestwood who has nearly 20 years of experience working within eating disorder services in the London area. At the time of writing (March 2003) the service also employs a full time psychologist, Amanda Jones, a full time dietician, Marilyn Conroy, and six half time Community Psychiatric Nurses based in Community Mental health Teams through the county. We hope that early in the new financial year (2003/4) will have confirmation of further funding

Philosophy of care
The service is presently in a state of development and within the next few years will aim to provide a wide range of treatments to patients with a variety of eating disorders, including bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Treatment offered is individualised depending on the needs of the client and every effort is made through the assessment process to offer the client the most appropriate form of care. Occasionally, some clients have such a severe form of an eating disorder that they are best cared for in an inpatient setting. Currently these clients need to go out of Cornwall for their treatment, but it is hoped that within the next few years we will have an inpatient unit in Cornwall.

The service is committed to offering educational opportunity to students, training professionals and those both with and without experience of treating eating disorders. Staff also regularly present and teach at conferences when requested by colleges or other professional parties.

Hours of operation
The service currently operates between Monday to Friday 9.00 am to 5.00 pm, excluding public holidays. As the service develops, these times will be increased.

Referral system
At present anyone who has or suspects they have an eating disorder should in the first instance see their GP. Depending on their age, the person will then be referred on either to the local Child and Family Service or for adults the Community Mental Health Team. At this point the person with the eating disorder will receive a comprehensive assessment from a member of the Eating Disorders Service. In the future we hope to have other ways of accessing the Eating Disorders Service, as we are aware that many people with eating disorders find it difficult to visit their GP. However, at present anyone who wishes to access the Eating Disorders Service needs to visit their GP.

Treatment programmes
All treatment programmes for people with eating disorders have an overall structure of learning how to eat normally and developing appropriate methods of expressing emotions. Clients who undertake treatment programmes can do so at a pace negotiated between themselves and their key worker. Some people have a diagnosis of an eating disorder but are not yet able to fully undertake the idea of full recovery. For these people we attempt to help them maintain their illness in a safe way and focus more on practical skills and activities of daily living. All treatment programmes are a collaboration between the health professional and the person with the eating disorder. It is not our intention to tell people what to do, our aim is to help people develop a strategy so that they can move forward in their life without the debilitating effect of an eating disorder.

Working with CEDA
The service has a good working relationship with CEDA and together we are attempting to provide better care for people in Cornwall with an eating disorder.

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