The complex battle against anorexia

A young Scottish woman who lost a five-year battle against anorexia was let down by the system according to a report by the ombudsman for Scotland.

Ombudsman, Professor Alice Brown, in her report to the Scottish Parliament, says there was a failure in the psychiatric and medical services given to Ms Waddell, and services in Scotland for people with eating disorders was inadequate.

Twenty year old Lindsay Waddell, of Currie, Midlothian, died in 2004 after being moved repeatedly between nine hospitals for psychiatric or medical care.

The case highlights the scant funding, lack of expertise and the complexity of dealing with what is both a medical condition and at the same time a serious psychiatric disorder.

Ms Waddell's mother, Louise, had made a claim that the Young Persons' Unit of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital failed to provide her daughter with appropriate care and treatment.

The ombudsman says her investigation reached a number of conclusions which in essence agree with the views of Ms Waddell's mother, that medical hospitals are ill equipped and ignorant of the disease anorexia nervosa.

Professor Brown says doctors should be educated about the disease and there should be separate wards for such patients and more funding.

She also says there is a wider need for acute in-patient medical services with appropriate specialist knowledge and expertise for patients with eating disorders whose physical condition required medical input.

She partially upheld the complaint that the board did not provide the necessary support to Ms Waddell's family.

Meanwhile Deputy Health Minister Lewis Macdonald says improvements have been made in eating disorders services and important work is currently under way.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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