The paper describes the first three years experience of a new out-patient eating disorder service for adults. Clinical data on referrals using standardised assessments are presented.
The referral rate rapidly rose to over 200 patients per annum. Forty-nine per cent of referrals were bulimic disorders and 26% had either anorexia nervosa or atypical anorexia nervosa. Seventy per cent were directly referred by general practitioners.
The creation of a specialist eating disorder service quickly leads to a high referral rate suggesting a previously unmet need. A service based on assessment and treatment by nurse therapists is acceptable and feasible with appropriate training and support from psychiatry, clinical psychology and dietetics. Expectations of a specialist service include teaching, consultation, research and audit as well as the provision of direct clinical care.
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