A STUDENT from Kendal has courageously spoken out about her experiences battling an eating disorder in an effort to draw attention to a growing crisis in the treatment of such conditions.

Daisy Newman, 21, described how she was forced to seek private treatment in South Africa after being denied medical attention because her body mass index, the criteria used by the NHS, was too high.

The treatment proved successful and she is now in better health, but MP Tim Farron said her situation illustrated how the NHS strategy on the issue desperately needed reform.

“Would somebody who had been diagnosed with stage 1 cancer be told ‘clear off until you’ve got stage 4, come back when you’re at death’s door?,” said Mr Farron.

“But that is how we treat people with mental health conditions, and in particular living with eating disorders.

“Some may have no appreciable or noticeable weight loss, but still have an eating disorder and that needs to be tackled and tackled now.”

The Westmorland and Lonsdale MP has urged mental health minister Jackie Doyle-Price to personally investigate the matter, and his call was backed by Ms Newman, who said her own story illustrated the seriousness of the current situation.

“My problems started when I was in Year 10 when I lost my appetite for long periods and also suffered from anxiety attacks,” said the former Queen Katherine School pupil.

“I went to see my GP and described my symptoms but was told I had anxiety problems.”

When she left school and went to college in Southampton, her condition did not improve, but after further visits to a GP, she was told the guidelines for further treatment depended on her body mass index and as this was not sufficiently low, she did not qualify for treatment.

The only option open was costly private treatment abroad, and in January 2018, Ms Newman travelled to South Africa for a range of therapies which proved extremely helpful.

Now 21, she is now in much better health and studying at Southampton University, but she said her experiences illustrated the faults of the current NHS strategy and added that given the high fatality rates associated with eating disorders, it was difficult to underestimate the seriousness of the problem.

“The GPs and counsellors I saw were very helpful but they suffered from a lack of training and a lack of understanding of the issues,” she said.

“There is just no support network and more investment is desperately needed.”

Mr Farron noted that according to figures obtained by eating disorder charity BEAT, just 13 young people were registered as living with an eating disorder in Cumbria, figures he vigorously disputed.

“We all know that’s not true,” said Mr Farron. “I would comfortably say it’s 10 times that number so what is happening that our young people with eating disorders are falling through the gaps?”