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FREED: Early Intervention Eating Disorders

As part of The Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) UCLPartners is supporting the national adoption of evidenced-based models including FREED for the early identification of eating disorders in adults aged 16 – 25.

FREED (First episode Rapid Early intervention for Eating Disorders) is an innovative, evidence-based, specialist care package for 16 to 25-year-olds with a first episode eating disorder of less than three years duration. 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 coordinated by a FREED champion employed by each trust.

The model has been developed by South London and Maudsley NHS Trust (SLaM) and is also on the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA).

The FREED model advocates treatment within two to four weeks and aims to contact patients with 48 hours of referral. Evidence shows this reduces the waiting times for assessment and treatment and that patients experience better outcomes.

A two-year follow-up study on FREED, showed that patients who were treated for anorexia nervosa via FREED had better weight outcomes and reduced need for day/inpatient care, compared to patients that were treated via standard care pathways.

The nationwide rollout of the early intervention programme furthers the commitment to the NHS Long Term Plan, to improve access to adult eating disorder services. This will see the NHS expanding the availability of early intervention services, increasing access and reducing waiting times to support improved clinical outcomes for young adults with eating disorders.

FREED in our region

UCLPartners is supporting mental health trusts in our region to improve the early identification and treatment of eating disorders using the FREED model.

We have been working with each of the Eating Disorder services in our partnership to implement FREED. Our work includes creating a Community of Practice for all our sites to share what is working well and and troubleshoot any challenges together.

Find out more about the AHSN Network national project.