State funds Newcastle eating disorders program 

ADULTS with eating disorders will be given more choice for treatment when Hunter New England Health rolls out a new program next year.

A new 10-week day program at Fletcher House in Newcastle is designed to fill a gap in options currently on offer.

Previously, patients could only choose to participate in one of two treatments - a one-hour counselling service or admission to hospital.

The new program allows patients to attend a day program for up to 10 weeks, where they are given an individual treatment plan, motivational and dietetic therapy and are provided with three or four meals a day.

It is estimated there are about 289,560 people in NSW with a "clinically significant" eating disorder at any one time.

Hunter New England Health eating disorders co-ordinator Melissa Hart said there had been a significant increase in the number of reported young females aged 10 to 24 with an eating disorder in the Hunter New England region.

She said the new program, which could accommodate up to eight people at a time, would help treat young adults specifically.

A report released by the NSW government in September, called the NSW Service Plan for People with Eating Disorders 2013-18, highlighted that most specialist outpatient and inpatient services for people with eating disorders were largely centred in metropolitan Sydney.

It said many people outside of Sydney received treatment from community-based services such as general practitioners, community dietician, community-based mental health staff, and medical and nursing staff in hospitals.

However, many of these workers are reluctant to treat eating disorders, citing lack of skill and expertise, lack of time, degree of difficulty, and concerns about medical risk associated with treating the client group.

Funding for the Hunter program was provided through the state government and runs until 2018.

Hunter New England eating disorders co-ordinator Melissa Hart prepares for the new program to open in Newcastle in the new year.

Hunter New England eating disorders co-ordinator Melissa Hart prepares for the new program to open in Newcastle in the new year.

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