Dáil Éireann - Volume 522 - 28 June, 2000

Written Answers. - Eating Disorders.

29. Ms O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to the call made by director of the eating disorders unit at St. Patrick's hospital for the establishment of a task force or a similar State initiative to examine the increase in young women suffering from eating disorders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18546/00]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): Persons presenting with eating disorders are generally treated through the psychiatric services of their local health board. Out-patient services are provided from a network of hospitals, health centres, day hospitals and day centres. Where inpatient treatment is deemed necessary, it is provided in the local acute psychiatric unit or hospital, beds being allocated on the basis of patient need at any particular time. A tertiary referral service for eating disorders is available in St. Vincent's hospital, Elm Park, Dublin, where three in-patient beds are designated for this purpose. A similar service is available privately at St. Patrick's hospital, James's Street, Dublin and at St John of God hospital, Stillorgan, County Dublin.

The health promotion unit of my Department is involved in a number of programmes available nationally which are aimed at young persons and which seek to promote healthy eating and lifestyle practices. These include: Social, Personal and Health Education – a broad based health education programme for both primary and post-primary schools; Nutrition Education at Post Primary Schools – a healthy eating programme for primary schools and Being Well – a holistic community based health education programme.

The health promotion unit also publishes an information leaflet on eating disorders and pro[787] vides funding to voluntary organisations dealing with eating disorders.

I am aware of the comments referred to by the Deputy. I might add that a number of groups including the Psychiatric Nurses Association, have raised with me the need for further initiatives on this issue and I am considering how best this can be advanced.