Fewer than half of Wigan youngsters with suspected eating disorders were seen by experts within the recommended times for several months, a shock new report reveals.
But after failing to hit targets by a huge amount at the beginning of the year during a service revamp, health chiefs say the system is now working much better.
Between January and March this year only 40 per cent of young people with an urgent problem were seen within the advised one-week period. And the rate for those with routine disorders, who would should expect to be seen within four weeks, was only around half.
The target is 95 per cent.
But health chiefs say they have improved on their performance since, with their rate for June topping 85 per cent.
North West Boroughs Healthcare Trust reorganised its community eating disorder service to cover both Wigan and Bolton.
Clinical commissioners have also noted that the access rate for young people with diagnosable mental health conditions in Wigan, which should be better than 30 per cent, was just 3.52 per cent for the last recorded quarter.
Senior clinicians at North West Boroughs say the eating disorders service had received an “above expected” rate of referrals after the boroughs were united under the same roof.
Dr Sandeep Ranote, NWBH’s medical director, said: “The trust has a plan to achieve all national targets by 2020. We have already made progress towards this target by prioritising urgent referrals. This means that service users who require urgent treatment are getting an appointment within one week.
“Our figures for April, May and June are showing that 100 per cent of service users have been seen within the target. This has had a knock-on effect with our routine referrals, however the service has responded by increasing the number of appointments and streamlining our internal processes.
With these improvements the trust’s figures for June are 85.7 per cent and we are forecasting to be within target this year.”
Concerns were raised by a whistleblower over the state of junior mental health services for Wigan last year, leading to unannounced inspections by clinical commissioners and a joint campaign with NWBH to improve services.