Hundreds of people with eating disorders will get access to expanded psychological treatments under a pilot study conducted on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
- Pilot trial to boost therapy for patients with eating disorders
- Patients with anorexia will get up to 50 sessions of therapy
- Hopes success of trial in Queensland could lead to national roll out
Patients with anorexia will be able to get up to 50 psychotherapy sessions, while patients with less complex eating disorders will be offered up to 20 sessions.
Anorexia has the highest death rate of any psychiatric illness.
Advocates have been calling for access to expanded therapy to ensure patients with eating disorders get the treatment they need, as currently only 8 to 10 sessions with a psychologist are available under the Better Access scheme.
Thousands of families to benefit
Expert say it is the first time multidisciplinary therapy services will be tailored to each patient, based on their individual needs.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the trial will be conducted with patients at Queensland’s Sunshine Coast over 18 months.
“Thousands of families in Australia are affected by eating disorders each year and too many sufferers face the difficult battle without the unique multidisciplinary care they need,” Mr Hunt said.
Mr Hunt said local GPs would be trained to identify, assess and treat eating disorders.
All up, $3.2 million will be spent on the trial as well as educating GPs across Queensland.
If you or anyone you know needs help with an eating disorder:
Eating disorders peak body the Butterfly Foundation will run the pilot trial along with the Primary Health Network on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.
Butterfly Foundation chief executive Christine Morgan said the pilot study and GP training was a significant advance in delivering the most effective treatments for eating disorders.
“It is the ray of hope hundreds of thousands of Australians have been looking for,” Ms Morgan said.
The hope is that if the pilot study goes well, the scheme could be rolled out across the country.
After the ABC raised concerns about the medical care patients with eating disorders were receiving, the Government announced a review into whether the treatments needed to be expanded under the Medicare Benefits Schedule.
The MBS review taskforce will look at the results of the pilot trial to gauge its effectiveness.
The Sunshine Coast was chosen as it has a higher than average incidence of eating disorders.