Support for people with eating disorders

New guidelines for clinicians in Scotland.


Doctors in Scotland are to be given new guidelines to support the treatment and care of patients with eating disorders.

Produced by the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) the guidance will focus on the unique cultural and geographical make up of Scotland, which includes remote and rural parts of the country where there may be not be specialist treatment. It will also give clinicians more advice on supporting patients with medical complications associated with anorexia nervosa.  

In 2017/18, 536 people across Scotland were treated for an eating disorder diagnosis and the guidance will also include a version for patients and carers. 

The announcement marks the start of Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2019, a campaign organised by national eating disorders charity Beat. The theme for this year’s week is tackling discrimination, and breaking down the stereotypes associated with eating disorders.

Clare Haughey, Minister for Mental Health said:

“It is vital that patients across Scotland have the best possible support available and I welcome the eating disorder guidance SIGN is creating which will give clinicians in Scotland more specific advice.

“Our ambitious 10 year Mental Health Strategy, backed by investment of £150 million over the next five years, sets out clearly how we can improve early intervention, and ensure better access to services, including specific actions to support people with eating disorders

“Eating disorders do not discriminate - anyone can be affected by them and we are committed to raising awareness across Scotland.”

Sara Twaddle, Director of Evidence with Healthcare Improvement Scotland, of which SIGN is a part, said:

“Studies tell us that eating disorders in teenage girls may be as high as 12% and that male eating disorders are increasingly being recognised.

“Moreover, professional and public bodies representing people with eating disorders tell us that there’s a need for a guideline on diagnosis and treatment that is specific to the needs of Scotland.

“The guideline will be for healthcare professionals, and there will be a version for patients and carers also. We believe that the guidelines will support access to CAMHS services and will complement the work Healthcare Improvement Scotland is providing to support this. Our intention is that the guideline improves the care that people receive, and improves service provision and outcomes across all of Scotland.”


The new Scotland specific guidance will also include the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Management of Really Sick Patients with Anorexia Nervosa (MARSIPAN) Guidelines which focus on the medical complications associated with anorexia nervosa and associated management.

The Scottish Government's approach to mental health from 2017 to 2027 – a 10 year vision.

Health boards will use this publication alongside the existing NICE guidelines

Beat is the UK’s eating disorder charity and the first national charity for people with eating disorders.


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