Health Minister Norman Lamb and Liberal Democrat MP Mark Hunter visited the Priory Hospital Cheadle Royal this week - and praised its care and treatment of patients with eating disorders.
Mr Hunter is local MP for Cheadle and his constituency includes the hospital. The MP, who, in Parliament, has frequently highlighted the issue of eating disorders, said: “There is a lot of excellent work going on at the Priory Cheadle Royal.
“It’s very clear to me that mental health issues do need to be given greater priority, and I know from past involvement how eating disorders can impact so severely on vulnerable young women and how eating disorders are very much a mental health issue.”
Mr Hunter added: “There are a lot of pernicious pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia websites out there posing as offering lifestyle choices.
“‘Pro-ana’ and ‘pro-mia’ websites advocate eating disorders as a lifestyle choice. They contain advice on how to maintain anorexic behaviours and provide encouragement for the continuation of what is essentially a mental health problem. Parents of eating disorder sufferers often have a limited awareness of these sites and how they target vulnerable, young women in a particularly unpleasant and manipulative way.”
Mr Lamb said: “I very much appreciated the opportunity to visit and found it really useful and was very impressed by what I saw.”
Paul Pritchard, hospital director at Priory Cheadle Royal, said: “I’m delighted Mr Lamb and Mr Hunter were able to visit and see the eating disorders unit which recently received excellent feedback from the Care Quality Commission during their inspection and we await the CQC report.
“Patients were very pleased to get the opportunity to talk to the ministers about their own experiences and they gave the hospital very positive feedback.”
Increasing numbers of young people are being admitted to hospitals in the UK because of eating disorders, latest figures show, with the blame in part being put on the rise of social media that has helped develop an obsession with image.
In the year to October there was an 8% increase in the numbers, according to the Government's Health and Social Care Information Centre.
Most of the 2,560 who went to hospital for inpatient treatment were very young – 15 was the most common age of admission for girls and 13 for boys. But children aged five to nine and the under-fives were also admitted.
Priory Cheadle Royal hospital provides two adult psychiatric intensive care units, an adult eating disorder unit that includes day care, three children and adolescent mental health units including an acute unit, a psychiatric intensive care unit and a low secure unit for young women with emerging personality disorders. The site also provides open rehabilitation programmes.
Warning: “Selfies” are fuelling eating disorders
The politicians’ visit came after the Priory Group warned of a growing trend among young women to document their weight loss by taking 'selfies' of their thinning frames and sharing them with friends is fuelling dangerous eating disorders.
Dr Alex Yellowlees, from the Priory Hospital Glasgow said : “Some people will take repeated pictures of themselves at various stages of their illness, and send them to others.
“They want to keep a record of their illness and see for themselves, as it were, the progress they think they are making towards anorexia, but they will also transmit the images to other sufferers on occasions.”
Read the full article “Selfies” are fuelling eating disorders
The Priory Group has seen a 15% rise in adult patients admitted with eating disorders in just one year, increasing to 535 in 2014, up from 463 in 2013.
Although the largest group of patients were those aged between 18-25, with 169 admissions, the largest increase in admissions occurred between those aged 36-45 which almost doubled from 40 to 73.
In addition, the Priory admitted 139 children and young people between the ages of 11 and 17 last year for treatment, up from 87 in 2013.
Some 1.6 million people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder, of which around 11% are male. Anorexia, one of a number of eating disorders, has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, from medical complications associated with the illness as well as suicide.
While "pro-ana" and "pro-mia" (pro-bulimia) websites have existed since the early days of the internet, the growing number of social media sites allowing people to post personal photographs and images has given those with eating disorders a new, international platform.
If you would like to know more about the support offered at Priory for eating disorders, please call 0845 277 4679. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here.