New Service Launch In Kent Supports Early Intervention To Help Young People with Eating Disorders

Young people in Kent with an eating disorder including anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder are set to receive rapid help as part of the launch of the new First episode Rapid Early Intervention for Eating Disorders service (FREED).

The Kent and Medway FREED Service, builds on a model of care previously shown to help 16-25-year-olds in London. FREED is an evidence-based early intervention model for eating disorders, tailored to young people’s needs. Developed six years ago by South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London, it provides rapid access to high-quality care for people in the early stages of illness when treatment is most likely to be effective.

With eating disorders causing serious physical and mental health problems which can last decades, the expanded service will target care to those who have been living with a condition for fewer than three years, with an aim to tackle problems during critical formative and developmental years – before they escalate and become stuck.

The target is for teens or young adults coming forward who would benefit from treatment in the FREED pathway to be contacted within 48 hours, assessed within two weeks, and treatment beginning as soon as four weeks after being referred.

two-year follow-up study on FREED, published in October last year, showed that patients who were treated for anorexia nervosa via FREED had better weight outcomes and reduced need for day/inpatient care, compared to patients that were treated via standard care pathways.

The nationwide rollout of the early intervention programme furthers the commitment to the NHS Long Term Plan, to improve access to adult eating disorder services. This will see the NHS expanding the availability of early intervention services, increasing access and reducing waiting times to support improved clinical outcomes for young adults with eating disorders.

The Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) is supporting the national adoption of evidenced based models including FREED for the early identification of eating disorders in adults aged 16-25.

The AHSN Network is supporting the national roll out of FREED as an Early Intervention model of care for young people with Eating Disorders.  Launched in 2020, AHSNs across England have worked in partnership with SLaM and KCL to support 40 services adopt FREED.  The programme is anticipated to scale to all eligible Mental Health Trusts by March 2023.  To date over 1200 young people have started the FREED Pathway, enabling them access care and treatment on average 12 weeks earlier than non-FREED treatment pathways.

Susie Greenwood, Principal Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Lead from the Kent & Medway Eating Disorder Team, said:

“This is a tremendous result for our Kent families and young people. Eating disorders can have a devastating impact on young adult lives – so it’s vital that we provide support as quickly as possible to ensure there is limited disruption.

“We’re excited to be launching FREED and hope that with this new care pathway anyone across our network who is experiencing symptoms of an eating disorder will now be able to access a rapid, evidence-based intervention to improve their chances of a full recovery.”

KSS AHSN has been involved with the FREED implementation since the outset, supporting with operations, comms, IG and data analysis.


For more details on the service, visit FREED | NELFT NHS Foundation Trust or contact the Kent and Medway All-Age Eating Disorder Service:

Tel: 0300 300 1980