A team from Cotswold House, including Lorna Collins, a former patient and now a peer support worker, Consultant Psychiatrist Agnes Ayton and Consultant Psychologist David Viljoen, wrote a blog which has been published on the BMJ website.

In the blog they talk about how the pandemic has presented challenges but also opportunities – meaning more patients could access this award-winning service.

During the pandemic, as with other areas of mental health, the service has been put under an enormous strain. An increasing number of patients have needed urgent hospital treatment due to dietary complications.

Covid19 highlighted an urgent need for investment in facilities, particularly as the current inpatient units at Oxford and Marlborough in Wiltshire would not be able to support a growing number of patients with infection control rules.

The team reviewed new ways to deliver care and Lorna was instrumental to this, having fought her own battle with anorexia, as a patient of the very same eating disorder service.

What emerged was a new ‘formulation’, an enhanced cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT-E) which was successfully used in Lorna’s own treatment and recovery.

Patients work together with the whole professional team, in a stepped care approach and they map out an individualised care plan together.

Patients can identify the triggers for their eating disorder and have a deeper understanding of where this stems from. They work with their team to develop goals, skills and strategies to recover successfully.

Lorna said: “I feel privileged to have turned a full circle, since I now work for the trust and help patients using the same care model as the one which enabled me to recover.

“My aim is to provide hope and show patients how recovery is possible, no matter how severe or enduring their eating disorder.”

As face to face meetings made way for digital consultations, the team realised this not only removed unnecessary travel, but it also enabled patients to work on their own unique ‘formulations’ in their own safe space.

Facilitated group sessions could be dialled into by many participants remotely on their own devices, highlighting the possibility of connecting with larger numbers of people.

The group is now exploring ways to be able to support more patients in the community. But they are clear that the priority is a new hospital and facilities to safely meet immediate patient needs for this service.

For the full BMJ article – visit https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2020/08/04/treatment-for-eating-disorders-during-and-after-covid-19/

For further information about the Cotswold House Specialist adult eating disorder service – visit https://www.oxfordhealth.nhs.uk/cotswoldhouse/service/