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Committee launches inquiry into PHSO report on NHS eating disorder services

26 March 2019

PACAC launches an inquiry to explore the findings of the report Ignoring the Alarms by the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman, which outlined significant failings in NHS eating disorder services.

In December 2017, the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman (PHSO) published its report Ignoring the alarms: How NHS eating disorder services are failing patients. The report investigated three cases which illustrated significant failings in NHS eating disorder services and serious issues that required national attention.

The PHSO concluded that eating disorder services are “an area of care that is at risk of failing its patients” and highlighted five areas of focus for improvement:

  • Training of doctors and other medical professionals;
  • The quality and availability of adult services, and the transition from child to adult services;
  • Improving coordination when more than one service is involved;
  • Using training to address gaps in provision of eating disorder specialists; and
  • Improving investigation and learning, in particular from serious incident investigations.

The Committee, which has responsibility for examining the reports of the PHSO, is holding an oral evidence session to highlight the areas of focus identified in Ignoring the Alarms and to investigate what action has been taken since the report to implement the recommendations.

Chair's comments

Commenting on the launch of the inquiry, Chair of the Committee Sir Bernard Jenkin MP said:

“The PHSO's report painted a bleak picture of NHS eating disorder services, but it did set out a way forward to improve care for patients.

PACAC will be examining what steps have been taken to implement the report's important recommendations and what still needs to be done to avoid failures in care for patients with eating disorders.”

Terms of Reference

The Committee is inviting written evidence on the following questions:

1. What has the impact of the PHSO report into NHS eating disorder services been since it was published in December 2017?

  • What has improved and what still needs to be improved?
  • How have each of the areas of the NHS involved in providing service responded to the report and its recommendations?

2. Which of the PHSO's wider recommendations have been implemented, partially implemented or not implemented? What has any such implementation looked like?

3. In what areas has there been most significant progress against the report's wider recommendations?

  • How has this progress been brought about?

4. In which areas is there still a need for improvement?

  • What steps need to be taken to achieve such improvement?

Submit written evidence

The deadline for written submissions is Tuesday 30 April 2019

At this time, one of the individual cases on which this report is based is sub judice. This means that under the rules of Parliament, the Committee is not able to discuss matters currently before the courts. The Committee therefore can't currently look at the lessons learned from the cases examined in the PHSO report or the manner in which these complaints were handled by the PHSO itself. The Committee hopes to return to these areas later in the year once court proceedings have concluded.

Those wishing to submit evidence should note that the Committee is unable to  examine individual cases. Written evidence should focus on the PHSO's report and actions needed to address the issues raised in that report. Submissions should not include detailed descriptions of individual cases. Submissions that do not meet these criteria may not be accepted by the Committee.


If you are affected by any of the issues raised or are looking for support with an eating disorder, one provider of such support is Beat:

Further information

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