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Plea issued as eating disorder patient says their GP Googled their condition

Two thirds of people with an eating disorder feel their GP did not understand how to help them with their illness.

28 February 2022

More than two thirds of people with an eating disorder feel their GP did not understand how to help them with their illness, a new poll has found.

Almost all (92%) of those with an experience of an eating disorder felt their family doctor needed more training on eating disorders.

One described how their GP was Googling their illness as they described symptoms.

The poll of 1,697 Britons aged 13 to 79 years old, who had lived experience of an eating disorder, also found that half of people with an eating disorder (52%) felt they would have been encouraged to seek help if they had had greater confidence that healthcare professionals could support them.

Two thirds (67%) felt opportunities for early help were missed, according to the poll by the eating disorder charity Beat.

And 69% said their GP did not know how to help them with their eating disorder, according to the survey released to mark Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

Beat is calling for all medical schools to include eating disorder training so all doctors, including GPs, are able to identify eating disorders and signpost patients to specialist support.

One person told the charity: “My GP was just reading definitions from Google. I felt I had the same knowledge as them, except they were the only ones able to refer me for help.”

Andrew Radford, chief executive at Beat, said: “It is essential that all medical students receive training on eating disorders.

“Quality education about eating disorders during medical school will help our future doctors to increase their understanding of these complex illnesses, identify the early signs and symptoms, and signpost people to treatment.

“Healthcare staff work tirelessly to provide the best care for their patients, but through no fault of their own they often do not have the training that they need.

“We know that it can feel incredibly overwhelming to reach out for help for an eating disorder.

“The sooner somebody receives specialist treatment, the better their chances of making a full recovery, and so it is essential that every person with an eating disorder feels confident that they will be supported by their GP.”

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