An eating disorder treatment unit at Wentworthville will expand from seven to 21 beds after Holroyd council approved a development application on August 25.
The facility to help patients tackle body image issues will be built at the Northside West private hospital at Lytton Street by May 2015.
Northside Group CEO Anne Mortimer said the development was due to high demand for treatment services for people suffering from eating disorders and the shortage of public hospital beds to tackle the problem.
‘‘The demand is so high, it was a completely underserviced area for the community. There are very few public beds in NSW,’’ Ms Mortimer said. ‘‘It’s the quiet killer and it’s the one that’s overlooked by the government in terms of mental health.’’
Butterfly Foundation CEO Christine Morgan welcomed the news as a win for an underresourced sector but said only those with private health insurance would be able to access the service.
‘‘We have a very dire need for further capacity for treatment services in Australia, so Butterlfy welcomes any new eating disorder facility that’s established,’’ Ms Morgan said.
‘‘This will be the third [private inpatient facility] in Sydney... there is also Northside at Greenwich, with 22 beds, and Wesley at Ashfield, which has about 12... It will reduce the very significant waiting lists we currently have.’’
Ms Morgan told the Sun there were about 20 public beds in NSW for young people with eating disorders but for adults, the situation was ‘‘dire’’.
‘‘We’re seen as international leaders in cancer and cardiac care, yet when it comes to the area of eating disorders, we are just woeful... Right across the continuum of care, there are glaring gaps.’’
UWS School of Medicine’s chair of mental health, Dr Phillipa Hay, who has worked in the area of eating disorders for more than 20 years, welcomed the news.
‘‘It’s a major thing really to be able to have a facility available to people in the western suburbs. It will provide much easier access,’’ Dr Hay said.
Asked to clarify the number of dedicated eating disorders beds in NSW and the hospitals they’re located in, a spokesman for Mental Health Minister Jai Rowell said across NSW, there are 22 public beds for child and adolescent patients, but would not provide figures for the adult beds.
“The NSW government... [has] committed $15.2 million over five years from 2013/14 for the state’s first Eating Disorders Plan to improve care for those suffering eating disorders."
Westmead Hospital provides 11 beds, three for adults and eight for adolescents. The Children's Hospital at Westmead has designated six beds for patients with eating disorders.
Eating disorder rates for people aged 5-24 by federal electorate:
■ Blaxland - 4.72%
■ Chifley - 4.62%
■ Fowler - 4.75%
■ Grayndler - 5.27%
■ Greenway - 4.48%
■ Hughes - 4.73%
■ Lindsay - 4.76%
■ Macarthur - 4.61%
■ McMahon - 4.93%
■ Mitchell - 4.45%
■ North Sydney - 4.87%
■ Parramatta - 5.13%
■ Reid - 5.38%
■ Sydney - 7.05%
■ Watson - 4.88%
■ Wentworth - 5.23%
* Data provided by the Butterfly Foundation, from a commissioned study in 2012 by Deloitte Access Economics, which extrapolated hospital admissions data and Medicare data.
Butterfly Foundation telephone support line: 1800 ED HOPE