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"Eating Disorders Team"

About: Perth Children's Hospital / Ward 4A - Adolescents

(as a parent/guardian),

I just wanted to express my sincere gratitude towards the whole Eating Disorders Team at PCH.

Mental Illness, especially Eating Disorders I am sure would be amongst one of the hardest, most frustrating illnesses to treat. There is no "quick fix", there is no "right or wrong", there is no "medicine" and there certainly are not any answers to help make it all go away.   

Having a child suffer an eating disorder (Anorexia Nervosa) day in, day out, for many years is just the most heart-wrenching, traumatic, saddening, tiring and frustrating experience. It affects the whole family, it tears families apart. In my experience, you lose friends, you lose your employment, you lose income, you lose your sense of identity but most of all you lose your child. They lose their childhood years.

You want more for them. You want more treatment. You want more answers. You search high and wide for something better....something to make them better. Somewhere to take them. 

As we know for young adolescents in WA there is only one place when they are sick and in need of a hospital admission for an Eating Disorder and it is Perth Children's Hospital.

I could never understand why the "state of the art" Perth Children's hospital was built after years and years of planning and did not include a specialised ward solely for the purpose of treating Eating Disorders. A place where you could get the medical attention but also much needed specialised mental health attention.

It was so frustrating having a child who was/is terribly medically unwell and terribly mentally unwell yet they had to yo-yo between two different floors and wards. An awful, anxiety-provoking experience which I feel sure only set back any chance of progress. I soon learnt that this was just the way things were and we had to accept that and work with what we had.  

I understand Eating Disorders were and are even more so to this day an illness which is drastically growing in numbers and inundating the hospital systems and supports. It is out of control.

I feel for our team, the whole team working with Eating Disorders, including the nursing staff on ward 4a. The beautiful nursing staff which we got to know so well.

I believe everyone is constantly under pressure to be able to keep up with the demand and the ward is stretched to its limits as are all of the clinicians involved. 

We are nearing the end of our PCH journey and soon to transition into the "adult" medical world of the unknown. The medical world where I believe there are so many shortages and hardly any hospital beds for Eating Disorder patients. It's scary, really scary, especially when you can't even find a Psychiatrist as I believe they are so inundated and not taking on new patients.

I am so thankful, so thankful for the wonderful team of experts we have had by our side on this journey at PCH. There are things in the very early days that I wish had never happened but we can't go back there now to change anything. 

Our family has had great comfort knowing that we have had the safety net of the EDP service and its people by our side. Having the stability and continuity of care and ongoing support from Nicolene, Tania, Desley, Robyn and Sally has been paramount in our child's progress. 

Weekly appointments, weekly phone calls and follow-ups, medicals, I don't think you could have done any more for us. The care, compassion and understanding shown is to be commended. 


I may have doubted that we weren't all on the same page at times but I have always kept a firm belief that we were, and still are, a team, a united team required to be able to fight and stand up to an eating disorder. 

It would be our greatest wish to say that our beautiful child will be leaving the service "recovered" but unfortunately this is not to be. 

I really hope the WA Health Department and PCH continue to look at ways to improve the EDP service and mental health in general for our young people. In my opinion, we need more beds, more trained clinicians, more help in the community.

Mark McGowan 12th Feb 2021 - MASSIVE BOOST TO MENTAL HEALTH - $122.4 million in services for young West Australians, and expanded eating disorder treatment services.

Let's hope we see this filter through to the right places as quickly as possible to include those in the 18-25 age bracket. 


Response from Katie McKenzie, Executive Lead Mental Health, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, Child and Adolescent Health Service last week
We are preparing to make a change
Katie McKenzie
Executive Lead Mental Health, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service,
Child and Adolescent Health Service
Submitted on 24/02/2021 at 18:52
Published on Care Opinion on 25/02/2021 at 13:15

picture of Katie McKenzie

Dear leoen99,

Thank you for your feedback regarding Eating Disorder Services at Perth Children’s Hospital (PCH), and your kind recognition of our staff. We are very fortunate to have a dedicated team of caring professionals and I know this positive feedback will mean a great deal to them.

There has been a huge increase in demand for eating disorder services throughout Australia and many other developed countries worldwide which has escalated in the months since the COVID-19 pandemic began. As you have mentioned, this has placed pressure on our inpatient and outpatient services for children and young people with an eating disorder.

An extensive review of PCH Eating Disorder Services was conducted in 2019/20 with input from consumers and carers with lived experience of our services. A new Model of Care for Eating Disorder Services will be introduced soon which is based on the contributions of users of our services and will better reflect the wants and needs of families. There is recognition of the need to expand the capacity of our Eating Disorder Services, which have been named as a ‘top priority’ in the Young People’s Priorities for Action 2020 – 2025.

Thank you for taking the time to provide this valuable feedback and I wish you and your child all the best.

Kind regards,

Katie McKenzie

Executive Lead Mental Health

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service | Child and Adolescent Health Service

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