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02 Dec 2021

Eating disorder patient numbers double in Sligo hospital

Eating disorder patient numbers double in Sligo hospital

Sligo University Hospital

The number of people attending Sligo University Hospital with eating disorders has more than doubled since the pandemic began, a doctor has revealed.

Professor Cathy McHugh, a consultant physician at the hospital, told RTÉ's Drivetime that it would normally treat four to six people a year with eating disorders.

However, 12 patients have already presented with the condition so far this year, three of whom are currently on the wards.

She said hospitals are only seeing the tip of the iceberg because when she speaks to her colleagues in the community "it has blown out of all control".

Prof McHugh said it appears that people's anxiety levels across the country have been raised as a result of the pandemic.

People who have eating disorders are "vulnerable to anxiety" and their social supports have been stripped away in the past year and a half.

She warned there was "little to nothing" to support people with eating disorders in Ireland due to very minimal services.

They need the help of a psychiatrically-trained eating disorder nurse, who "is the difference between you doing well and you doing poorly".

Prof McHugh said she has has significant concerns about admitting people with eating disorders to hospital in a pandemic, as they are very vulnerable if they get Covid.

But when it gets to a serious level, she "has no choice".

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