Review of eating disorder services

Recommendations expected in Spring 2021.

Eating disorder services will be subject to a national review, designed to assess and improve support for people living with an eating disorder.

The review will publish in spring next year and will provide a full picture of the current support available for those with an eating disorder. It will then offer a number of recommendations to inform improvement work throughout 2021.

It forms part of the programme of work to improve performance in mental health waiting times and support early intervention in community settings and across the third sector, local government and the NHS.

Work on the review will last for six months and start following the publication of the Mental Welfare Commission’s (MWC) report on eating disorder services is expected in summer 2020. The MWC report will be used as a solid foundation for the review.

Speaking at the start of Eating Disorder Awareness Week, Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey said:

“More people lose their lives from eating disorders than any other psychiatric condition, therefore it requires a specialist and dedicated response. The national review will build on the work of the MWC who are currently visiting eating disorder services in Scotland.

“Direct investment in mental health has been increased to £117 million in the 2020-21 draft budget. This will help us ensure better access to services. This review is a crucial first step in a programme of work to improve services for people living with an eating disorder. We want to see a second phase of improvement work in 2021, which will be guided by the review’s findings.”

Dr Stephen Anderson, chair of the eating disorders faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland, said:

"Eating disorders are the deadliest and most lethal of mental health conditions and we know that earlier intervention saves lives. This is why we welcome this review of services, following on from the work by the Mental Welfare Commission.

“The College has discussed the possibility of a review with the Scottish Government on a number of occasions. We’re keen to work together to ensure everyone, no matter where they live – can access safe, timely and effective treatment for an eating disorder.

“We’re keen to learn from colleagues in Wales following their national review of eating disorder services and welcome the opportunity to make recommendations on how these services can best be provided across the country.”


The national review will:

  • cover eating disorder services for both adults and young people from the age of 12 and up
  • conduct a needs assessment of services that are provided by the third sector and community eating disorder support across Scotland
  • cross-reference the findings of this needs assessment with the findings of the MWC report, so that we have a full picture of the current system of support that is available for those with an eating disorder
  • make recommendations for how specialist eating disorder services can best be provided in urban, semi-urban and rural areas, and
  • make recommendations for what the age limit (if any) of an eating disorder service should be

The MWC is currently visiting a series of eating disorder services across the country which includes adult services, CAMHS, outpatient and independent eating disorder care in Scotland. The MWC will publish the report in summer 2020.

During Eating Disorders Awareness Week in 2019, the Scottish Government relaunched NHS Lothian and Beat’s Digital Peer Support Service for those with an eating disorder, supporting Action 22 of the 10 year Mental Health Strategy. The relaunch included the addition of a telephone coaching service for parents and carers, reflecting feedback from users of the service.


Media enquiries

Back to top