A THERAPIST helping county people with eating disorders says she is not surprised a record number of children received urgent treatment last year.

New data shows a national rise in young people needing urgent help with eating disorders is being reflected in the county as 26 young people, aged under 19, started urgent treatment at Worcester Health and Care NHS Trust last year.

The 26 is the highest ever, and compares with three in the first year records began in 2017.

And the data also shows a further 123 under-19s began treatment for routine cases last year – up from 93 the year before.

Eating disorders can include anorexia, bulimia and binge eating.

Kim Marshall runs a successful business as a therapist helping clients with eating disorders, which she set up after she suffered anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

The 45 year old said: “Since the original lockdown I’ve seen a rise in the people contacting me.

“I deal with adults mainly, but do have teenagers I work with.

“A lot of people think it is about food and weight, but it is about control.

"In lockdown, a lot of people felt they didn’t have control of what was happening. The eating disorder is a way of dealing with that.

"It was a sudden change, a big trauma. With children they are vulnerable.

"For a child a thing like a divorce of parents, difficult relationship or being shouted at at school is a trauma.

"So something such as this pandemic, that came quickly with schools closed so they can’t see their friends, that left them feeling isolated and alone. All of that really has an effect on a child’s mental wellbeing.

"It doesn’t surprise me at all those numbers have shot up.”

The Pershore mum said a lack of resources was also an issue.

"It definitely needs more resources, more training for GPs on what is helpful and isn’t helpful," she added.

The figures also show that at Worcestershire Health and Care Trust five patients waited more than a week to start urgent treatment last year, meaning only 80.8 per cent of cases were seen in time.

But the data did show no young people waited more than four weeks to begin routine treatment.

Worcestershire Health and Care Trust did not respond to our request for a comment.

On the national rise an NHS spokesman said: “The pandemic turned lives upside down and hit young people particularly hard, but community eating disorder services continue to step up to treat increasing numbers that require care.”