Netherlands must improve treatment for people with anorexia, other eating disorders: experts

The Netherlands must improve its care for children and adolescents with eating disorder, according to advice from K-EET, a group of pediatricians and psychiatrists, to Minster Hugo de Jonge of Public Health. The group wants a structural improvement in care for anorexia patients in particular, NOS reports.

Minister De Jonge asked K-EET to draw up an action plan for improving care for young people with eating disorders, due to signals that these patients often get help too late, which worsens their situations and puts more pressure on specialists clinics - clinics that already have long waiting lists. 

"We now see that after decentralization, care has deteriorated for people with eating disorders", Monica Scholten from K-EET said to the broadcaster. When the responsibility for healthcare moved from the central government to municipalities in 2015, a link in the care chain was lost, she said. "There is now not enough knowledge."

K-EET provided the Minister with a 'road map' for improving care for people with eating disorders over the next three years. The group believes that these measures will help in eating disorders being recognized more quickly, and patients being referred to the right agency more quickly. "Multiple solutions are needed to improve the problems surrounding anorexia care", Scholten said. "Among other things, there must be more information, care professionals, parents and children must find each other faster, authorities must acquire more knowledge, and there must be good regional cooperation."

Around 200 thousand people in the Netherlands have an eating disorder. Exactly how many people are on waiting lists to get help, is not clear. But the average waiting time for treatment is around 14 weeks. During that time, patients' problems can become worse, making treatment more difficult. That decreases the chance of improvement and increases the chance of death or permanent damage. 

With this plan from K-EET, Minister De Jonge thinks he can take "important steps in the right direction", he said in a letter to parliament. "That is why I fully support and the development and implementation of this plan." 

Next year the Ministry will help establish two regional expertise centers for young people with complex problems, including eating disorders, as a test. This initiative will be expanded in 2021.