A group of North MPs have called on the Government to ensure that a centre for people with eating disorders remains open.
The seven MPs have written to Health Minister Norman Lamb saying that a downgrading of the Richardson Eating Disorder Service at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary should be reconsidered.
The MPs – led by Newcastle Central’s Chi Onwurah – say the unit has a proven track record and is badly needed at a time of increasing numbers of cases being diagnosed.
The letter has also been signed by fellow Tyneside MPs Mary Glindon, David Anderson and Alan Campbell, Northumberland members Ian Lavery and Robbie Campbell and Easington MP Grahame Morris.
A recent change in the way the NHS treats people with eating disorders in the region means that those who need inpatient treatment must travel to the region’s only NHS commissioned centre in Darlington, almost 40 miles away.
Ms Onwurah said: “Newcastle has a first class eating disorder unit, the Richardson Eating Disorder Service based in the Royal Victoria Infirmary, a modern city centre hospital.
“It has provided a professional eating disorder in and outpatient service for the last 16 years and meets all the service specifications. The Care Quality Commission and Royal College of Psychiatrists consider it to be an excellent unit.
“It lost the last tendering process to Tees Esk and Wear Valley NHS Trust who at the time did not operate an inpatient unit. It was subsequently approved as an ‘any qualified provider’ of inpatient beds.
“I and my colleagues want the minister to ensure we do not lose this excellent unit in the RVI at a time when, regrettably, eating disorders appear to be increasing and local people have ended up being offered beds and treatment in Leeds and Manchester.”
Last week the North East Eating Disorder Action Group said the policy was “hurting local sufferers and their carers”.
NHS England said at the time that treating people with eating disorders was best provided at regional centres of excellence and this was being done at Darlington and Middlesbrough.