Published: January 3, 2012
Burnham MP's 'shock' at NHS cash cuts for eating disorders group

Burnham-On-Sea MP Tessa Munt says she is "shocked" that Somerset Partnership NHS has completely cut its financial support for Somerset and Wessex Eating Disorders Association (SWEDA), which has members in the Burnham area.

The trust’s withdrawal - which cuts 50% of SWEDA’s total funding from the start of January - means users of SWEDA's services, which include counselling, a telephone helpline and monthly support group meetings, will be unable to find the specialist help they need.

Tessa said this week: "I am shocked that the Trust has decided to cut all its funding of SWEDA. The association does a great job educating young people about the problems caused by eating disorders through its schools' project."

"I am sure that money spent on prevention saves much more money being spent on treating eating disorders in the long run. I am sure that in removing funding from SWEDA, the Trust is simply adding to its long term costs, as it will have to treat more sufferers with advanced conditions just because it has withdrawn funding and caused a lack of early support and help."

Tessa has written to the trust's Chief Executive, Edward Colgan, asking for an explanation and she also plans to raise the matter with the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, when Parliament reconvenes.

The group's Jackie Tanner, who lives in Burnham, told "Currently, SWEDA runs a monthly support group for sufferers and carers, low cost counselling, email and MSN Messenger support and telephone helpline support twice a week. The majority of their counsellors are volunteers. I have personally used SWEDA for the past year and they have been helpful in my recovery."

"Understanding of eating disorders amongst general health practitioners is limited and the criteria for disgnosis often leaves sufferers without the help they need at a crucial time. Organisations like SWEDA are a lifeline to those with an eating disorder, waiting lists for treatment within the NHS and mental health services are too long and priority is often based on an individuals bmi. To cut another service to those vulnerable is tragic."

NHS Somerset's Paul Courtney defended the decision, saying it has been made after a full review of its expenditure.

He told "For some years Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has provided funding for SWEDA. The Trust has its own dedicated Eating Disorder Service which meets the needs of the majority of the most seriously affected patients in Somerset."

"A review by the Trust of its funding to SWEDA concluded that this money could be better directed to supporting an aspect of the child and adolescent mental health services."

"Funding to SWEDA therefore ended at the start of January. However, the Partnership Trust would like to reassure any person experiencing an eating disorder that they will continue to have access to the support they need."

"The Somerset Health and Wellbeing Service, known as ‘Somerset Right Steps’, already provides support to people with less severe mental health ill health and difficulties arising from conditions such as stress, anxiety, depression and phobias. Based around your family doctor, the service provides a range of support based upon the person’s needs."

"This might include access to ‘talking therapies’, such as counselling or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), or for the more seriously affected person, access to acute mental health assessment and support, such as that provided by the Trust itself."

Burnham's Pier Tavern in Pier Street will be holding a charity quiz night for the group on Tuesday January 10th from 7pm in aid of SWEDA.


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