Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Under-Threat Anorexia Unit Saved My Life; FORMER SUFFERER HITS OUT AS SERVICE FACES CLOSURE

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Under-Threat Anorexia Unit Saved My Life; FORMER SUFFERER HITS OUT AS SERVICE FACES CLOSURE

Article excerpt

Byline: JOANNE BUTCHER

AT JUST six stones, Victoria Bennett needed to be fed through a tube to keep her alive.

The 33-year-old, from Gosforth, Newcastle, was battling anorexia and was taken into hospital for round-the-clock treatment.

After eight months of specialist care at the Regional Eating Disorders Service at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary, she is finally on the road to recovery.

But Victoria says hundreds of other sufferers could miss out on potentially life-saving treatment if the unit is forced to shut its doors.

Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust has lost out to Middlesbrough in the tender to keep running the service.

It could mean that 17 years of specialist treatment at the RVI will end next year.

Some patients would be transferred to Middlesbrough or Darlington, but many could be forced to travel further afield.

Victoria, who was discharged last week after putting on over two stones, said she might not have survived her illness if it wasn't for the expert care she received.

"REDS were fantastic," she said. "I was only about six stones when I went in. I had to be fed through a tube because I couldn't digest food properly.

"If it hadn't been for the RVI and their dedicated staff, I may not have been here today."

Victoria has suffered from anorexia since she was bullied in her teens.

In 2008, she was sent to Leeds for treatment because there wasn't enough space on the four-bed RVI ward.

But she relapsed after returning home - and blames the distance.

"At Leeds, it was hard for my family to visit, so I felt like I had no support," she said.

"When I was discharged there was no follow-up care, because I was out-of-area. That made everything harder and I relapsed.

"If the unit closes, sufferers will be sent further away - or could be put on psychiatric wards, which don't provide the specific help you need. …

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