Child and adolescent mental health services eating disorder service

Our eating disorder service

The Royal Free London CAMHS eating disorder service has been running a highly successful and innovative eating disorder service since 2001. It is now one of the largest CAMHS eating disorder services in the country, currently covering five North London boroughs. 

The service aims to help young people with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or atypical variations of these disorders, to recover fully in the community. The service consistently achieves excellent clinical outcomes and satisfaction ratings from our patients and their parents.


What are eating disorders?

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses which can affect people of all genders, backgrounds and ethnicities. People with eating disorders may display behaviours such; as food restriction, binging (eating large quantities of food at once), or unhealthy methods to get rid of food such as making themselves sick, using laxatives or excessive exercise. Although they may not be aware of it, these behaviours are often used to cope with difficult emotions or help them feel as if they are in control.


Who we treat

At Royal Free CAMHS Eating Disorder Service we primarily treat young people aged 10-18 with the following eating disorders:

  •  Anorexia Nervosa
  •  Bulimia Nervosa

We do not treat the following eating disorders:

  • ARFID (Avoidant/Restrictive Feeding Intake Disorder)
  • Binge Eating Disorders


Our treatment approach


In our service we follow the FT-AN (Family Therapy for Anorexia Nervosa) and FT-BN (Family Therapy for Bulimia Nervosa) models. This is evidence-based practice for the treatment of Eating Disorders (NICE Guidelines, 2017).

At the Royal Free, we believe families and carers are the experts in their young person, and work collaboratively with them to treat the eating disorder. After an initial assessment with a clinician, the young person, and a member of their family, we will decide if our service is the right fit. If so, the young person and their family members will have regular, supportive sessions with a clinician in order to practically support them with their recovery. If appropriate, the young person and family may also sometimes be seen individually or offered individual therapies such as CBT-E or psychotherapy.

At the Royal Free Eating Disorders Service the majority of our patients are treated in our outpatient team. We also have an Eating Disorder Intensive Service (EDIS) for patients who may be medically unstable or at risk of hospital admission. We aim to treat all our patients in the community, but sometimes hospital admissions may be necessary.


Our team

In our service, we are proud to work in a multi-disciplinary team consisting of:

  • Family therapists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Dietitians
  • Psychotherapists
  • Specialist Nurses
  • Paediatricians
  • Clinical Psychologists
  • Counselling Psychologists
  • Assistant Psychologists
  • Therapeutic Care Workers

A diverse team of specialities allows us a wide range of expertise. In a patient’s treatment journey, they may have contact with one, or multiple clinicians, depending on their individual needs


Referring to us

Eating disorder referrals are accepted from GPs, local CAMHS teams, and other NHS medical professionals (we do not accept self-referrals). If the referral is accepted the waiting time for an assessment varies on the current demand.

Useful information to help us prioritise referrals includes: 

  • Current height and weight
  • Rate of any weight loss e.g. 3kg in three weeks
  • Current estimated food/calorie intake and fluid intake
  • Any other physical or mental health concerns
  • Telephone numbers (to enable us to triage and arrange urgent appointments)

We do not need referrers to organise blood tests or any other investigations in advance, especially where young people may be rapidly losing weight. Please see the referrals tab on the CAMHS main page for contact details and further information.

Refer to the Eating Disorders Service.