Young people receiving treatment for eating disorders at a specialist Sheffield clinic have said more community support is needed for patients.
Patients at the Riverdale Grange centre in Ranmoor - the only specialist unit of its kind in the region - spoke to Deputy Prime Minister Nicl Clegg when he visited yesterday.
They told the Sheffield Hallam MP, who last year pledged £150m over five years to help people with eating disorders, that when people went back home from the unit they often had to get to know a whole new team and or were even on a waiting list for support, increasing the risk of relapse.
One girl said: “I have not always had great experiences of the community team in the past because I think they are a bit overstretched.”
And another added: “It is when you are home and in the community that you need the most support.”
Riverdale Grange treats young people, both male and female, between the ages of 13 and 18 using family based support and therapies in its adolescent unit.
It also has an adult unit for people aged up to 65.
t focuses just on eating disorders, with every member of its team trained in the subject, and people have requested to come from as far away as Toyko and Switzerland.
Mr Clegg toured the centre’s homely residential unit for teenagers and a schoolroom where they can continue studies up until A-level standard.
The team of experts wants to help more local residents with a community team who could work outside the centre but needs funding for it.
Katie Scholey, charge nurse, said: “We do have an NHS contract, that is for inpatients, but we do want funding for a community team.
“We do want to help local patients - we have all this knowledge and experience.”
Mr Clegg, who has focused on mental health and asked his first prime minister’s question as leader of the Liberal Democrats about the subject , said: “It is incredibly rewarding to hear from patients and how crucial support has been from their point of view. I learn more from talking to a patient than reading copious notes and briefings in Whitehall.
“There is no point in young people getting fantastic support here and thenleaving them to fend for themselves when they leave .”
From April, access and waiting time standards for mental health will be introduced, and £400m is being spent to increase access to talking therapies.
Mr Clegg said his party had also put guaranteeing equal care for mental health in its manifesto priorities.
He said the way mental health services were funded, as well as how children moved to adult services at the age of 18, were being changed to make them more equal to physical health services.
But he added: “Things like this show me what we need to do and we need to do more so that someone who goes back home, to school, to their community, knows there is a proper package of support for them.”