The work of Oxford Health’s award-winning Cotswold House eating disorder in-patient unit came under the spotlight when Robert Courts MP, came on a fact finding tour.
The MP for Witney visited after receiving positive reports from several constituents about the high quality, compassionate care their relatives had received for eating disorders, like anorexia, bulimia and binge eating.
Following a negative lateral flow test and adhering to strict infection prevention control procedures, fully vaccinated Mr Courts joined Debbie Richards, Executive Managing Director for Mental Health, Learning Disabilities and Autism for a tour of the Warneford Hospital site – the oldest mental health in-patient facilities still in use across the whole of the NHS.
They then went on to the unit for a tour during which Mr Courts got to meet staff, including Consultant Psychiatrist Agnes Ayton and Modern Matron Ellen Tutisani, and hear from them about some of the challenges being faced as well as some of the Cotswold House success stories.
He was keen to hear how arts and creative therapies, as well as the unit’s outdoor space, were used alongside ground-breaking cognitive behavioural therapies to provide bespoke ‘formulations’ for care and recovery.
Demand for eating disorders services has been greatly impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. Oxford Health has seen a 23% increase in referrals compared to pre-pandemic levels.
One of the biggest challenges has providing care in an inpatient setting while maintaining stringent infection control procedures and social distancing to protect highly vulnerable patients.
Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all severe mental illness conditions and most adults have complex physical and psychiatric comorbidities. Most commonly these include depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress and obsessive compulsive disorders.
NHS Digital data suggest there are around 17,200 people in Oxfordshire with the condition.
On conclusion of his tour, Mr Courts said: “I am very grateful to everybody for taking the time to show me around Cotswold House. It is a truly extraordinary care facility and my gratitude goes, on behalf of people in West Oxfordshire, to all the staff and carers at Cotswold House.
“I know there are a number of challenges and an increase in demand, which is good for me to be aware of, and I am absolutely committed to working with the wonderful Oxford Health team.”
Debbie Richards commented: “It was a pleasure to welcome Mr Courts to our site and to see his genuine interest in mental health services, our research-informed care model in Eating Disorders and his support for our hard working teams. We very much appreciate him taking time to learn more; it is fantastic for our committed staff to receive such heart-felt acknowledgement and appreciation.”