Test site for new eating treatment
Expanded psychological treatments for eating disorders are being offered under a pilot study on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.
Currently, only 8 to 10 sessions with a psychologist are available under the federal Better Access scheme.
Under the new $3.2 million program, patients with anorexia will be able to get up to 50 psychotherapy sessions, while patients with less complex eating disorders will be offered up to 20 sessions.
The Sunshine Coast was chosen as it has a higher than average incidence of eating disorders.
“Thousands of families in Australia are affected by eating disorders each year and too many sufferers face the difficult battle without the unique multidisciplinary care they need,” Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said.
The scheme will see GPs would trained to identify, assess and treat eating disorders.
The trial will be run by eating disorders peak body the Butterfly Foundation in conjunction with the Primary Health Network on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.
Butterfly Foundation chief executive Christine Morgan said it is a significant advance.
“It is the ray of hope hundreds of thousands of Australians have been looking for,” Ms Morgan said.
If the pilot study goes well, advocates hope the scheme will be rolled out across the country.
A Medicare Benefits Schedule review is currently looking at treatments for eating disorders, and its taskforce is expected to have a close eye on the results of the pilot.