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FREED rolled out in UCLPartners region to help young people suffering from eating disorders

2 December 2020
New service provides rapid help for 16 to 25-year-olds with eating disorders.

Young people in the UCLPartners region suffering from eating disorders are to receive rapid help from a new service called FREED (First Episode Rapid Early Intervention for Eating Disorders).

The service – which will be available in Bedfordshire, Luton and Essex – is being set up for 16 to 25-year-olds who have had an eating disorder for three years or less.

UCLPartners successfully applied for funding on behalf of Bedfordshire and Luton Adult Community Eating Disorder Service (East London Foundation Trust), and Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. UCLPartners will now support the trusts to implement the service as part of our Mental Health and Behaviour Change programme, to be launched by April 2021.

Clinician with woman

The NHS service, which will be rolled out in 18 sites across the country, builds on a successful model shown to help 16-25 year olds in London, with one patient describing it as ‘the gold standard’ of care.

FREED overcomes barriers to early treatment and recovery and provides highly coordinated early care, with a central focus on reducing the duration of an untreated eating disorder. It consists of a service model and a care package.

The development of FREED has been supported by the NHS Innovation Accelerator. As part of The Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) UCLPartners is supporting the national adoption of evidenced-based models including FREED.  

Director of UCLPartners Mental Health and Behaviour Change Programme, Professor Peter Fonagy said: “We’re very pleased to be supporting the roll-out of the FREED programme in our region to help give young people the rapid help they need with eating disorders. As part of our Mental Health and Behaviour Change programme we’re focused on increasing the adoption and spread of effective treatments such as FREED to reduce the treatment gap between those who need care and receive care, particularly among young people. 

“I am looking forward to working with colleagues at East London Foundation Trust and Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to successfully implement the service.”

Dr Nick Hawkes, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Head of Service, Bedfordshire and Luton Adult Community Eating Disorder Service (East London Foundation Trust),  said: “We are super excited to be able speed up our implementation of the FREED model for the young people of our diverse communities in Bedfordshire and Luton. 

“Therapy is most effective the earlier you get it so our FREED champion will be there to reach out to young people in need of help.  We are also really proud that our team was recognised as ‘FREED-ready’ because we already offer effective and evidence-based therapy with good outcomes and try to treat everybody as an individual with warmth, respect and working together.”

Paul Scott, Chief Executive at Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT), said: “We launched the FREED care package in west Essex earlier this year to offer rapid and specialist care to young people living with eating disorders. I am delighted that we will soon be able to provide the same vital support to young people living in other parts of our county.

“Eating disorders lead to changes to a person’s brain, body and behaviour.  Early intervention is essential in reversing these changes and improving the likelihood of a full recovery. Expanding our offer of the FREED care package means we can help more young people more quickly when they need us most.”