There were fewer hospital admissions for people in Blackburn with Darwen and Burnley suffering with eating disorders last year, new figures show.

Beat, a charity supporting those affected by eating disorders, said early access to treatment is crucial as many people with eating disorders seeking NHS treatment experience very long waiting times or are turned away.

NHS figures show there were about 70 finished hospital admissions with a primary or secondary diagnosis of an eating disorder for people living in Blackburn with Darwen in the year to March 2023 – including 20 under 18-year-olds.

It was down from 95 hospital admissions in 2021-22, but an increase from 50 admissions before the pandemic in 2019-20.

Meanwhile, there were about 40 finished hospital admissions for people living in Burnley in the year to March 2023 – including 15 under 18-year-olds.

This was down from 65 hospital admissions in 2021-22, but an increase from 30 admissions before the pandemic in 2019-20.

The figures are rounded to the nearest five.

Across England, there were nearly 28,400 hospital admissions with a primary or secondary diagnosis of an eating disorder in the year to March 2023, down slightly from 29,000 the year before.

However, it marked a 35 per cent increase compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019-20 when there were 21,000 admissions.

Of the hospital admissions last year, 6,400 (23 per cent) were children.

Tom Quinn, Beat's director of external affairs, said: "It is very worrying that hospital admissions for people with an eating disorder continue to far exceed those seen before the pandemic, and that in the year to March 2023 the number was only slightly lower than the record level seen in the previous year."

He added: "Early access to evidence-based treatment in the community is crucial to prevent the need for more intensive and costly treatment in hospital.

"Unfortunately, many people with eating disorders that seek NHS treatment are experiencing very long waiting times, or in some cases are being turned away."

The data also shows provisional figures for the current year, with 11,750 hospital admissions recorded between April and August.

So far in Blackburn with Darwen, there have been some 10 admissions for eating disorders in 2023-24.

Mr Quinn said healthcare staff are doing all they can to help as many people as possible, but the government is "failing to give these services the support they need".

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "We’re improving eating disorder and mental health services, investing almost £1 billion in community mental health care for adults with severe mental illness - including eating disorders - by 2024.

"Capacity at children and young people’s community eating disorder services is also being increased across the country thanks to an additional £54 million government investment."

Tracy Cook-Scowen, director of operations, specialist network - community and wellbeing services at Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are delighted to see this new data, which shows that people with eating disorders in Blackburn with Darwen are being admitted to hospital less often and are being treated in more appropriate settings.

"We have seen a large increase of people needing our support after the pandemic and through a change in practice, have worked hard to meet the high levels of demand.

"This means everyone is seen as quickly as possible and the wait for their appointment is based on their level of need following robust screening and triage checks.

"We are seeing people sooner and are able to offer community based eating disorder support and treatment in the patient’s own home much more often.”