Latest news | 16 May 2016

Health System for all Australians, not just some


Butterfly Foundation is sounding the MAYDAY alarm for more than 700,000 Australians failed by our health system. The current system is failing people with eating disorders, who are unable to get the necessary life-saving treatment.

Butterfly calls on the Federal Health Minister and the Shadow Minister for Health to accept their responsibility to people across the country suffering from this debilitating mental illness that also seriously impairs physical health – and commit to the necessary funding, services, information and support.

There are currently only 37 adult hospital beds across the country for eating disorders, located in the state capitals, and no specialist services in regional areas. Not a single local health district or area has the necessary full continuum of care for eating disorders, and most do not have access to the necessary range of medical professionals for treatment.

It is critical that all Primary Health Networks, working with state based health areas and districts, adopt eating disorders as a core business – bringing the necessary services into their communities, rather than forcing people to leave their homes and families behind in search for treatment.

Eating Disorders have staggering mortality and suicide rates. Women with an eating disorder are six times more likely to attempt suicide, and according to the latest research a third of young people with Anorexia Nervosa and more than half with Bulimia Nervosa have considered suicide.

Our health system fails people with eating disorders at every point – from missed, incorrectand incomplete diagnoses due to a lack of appropriate medical training, to non-existent or inadequate referral pathways, and lack of treatment opportunities in hospitals and community.

Australia needs an immediate increase in the number of specialist adult hospital beds and in- community day programs, as well as urgent guidance to the Primary Health Networks to begin building eating disorder services and capacity. If we are to have a hope of stemming the tide that could end up overwhelming the system and costing further lives, we need a trained and ready workforce.

Investing in Need report makes a clear economic argument for immediate action – every $1 invested in treating eating disorders has a $5 benefit to the community in reduced treatment costs and productivity losses, and most importantly, saved lives.

The Government needs to guarantee ongoing survival of the national ED HOPE supportline within the new digital gateway environment, and provide a funding boost of $1.5M per annum, to increase capacity to 24/7 and improve its ability to provide online counselling services.

To learn more about the MAYDAYS campaign go here

Media Contact: Elaine Banoub, 02 9212 3888 or 041 2237 673,