Wiltshire GPs are offered more 'anorexia training'
A service has been launched to offer Wiltshire GPs help in diagnosing illnesses such as anorexia and bulimia.
The Wiltshire Community Eating Disorder Service, at Savernake Hospital, will offer help on spotting the disorders.
In a survey carried out by eating disorder charity Beat, nearly nine out of 10 sufferers said their GP did not know how to help them.
The Eating Disorder Service will also offer inpatient and day care services.
Nicola Spiller, a clinical psychologist at the new unit, said a GP's understanding of the disorder "depends on how many people with an eating disorder they've actually worked with directly".
"Unfortunately eating disorders have sometimes been the Cinderella specialty of mental health," she said.
"I think they are very challenging to work with and sometimes it hasn't been clear what treatment works.
"One of the things we're hoping that the Eating Disorders Community Service can do is increase awareness with GPs and help them to develop a better understanding of the disorder and also give them training on how to work with people within their surgeries."
Wiltshire GP Debbie Beale said: "I have had three young women die over my career and it has been very upsetting for me as a clinician looking after them, feeling helpless, trying to get them to have normal lives.
"Getting help to diagnose it earlier and give people support early on - hopefully we don't have to wait for people to get so ill that they're collapsing in hospital."
Nearly 1.6m people in the UK have an eating disorder, according to the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (2004).