FREED eating disorder intervention nominated for prestigious HSJ Award | Press releases

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FREED eating disorder intervention nominated for prestigious HSJ Award

An early intervention eating disorder treatment model which was created by South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London (KCL) has been shortlisted for a prestigious HSJ Award.

The ‘First episode rapid early intervention for eating disorders’ (FREED) is a treatment approach for 16 to 25-year-olds who have had an eating disorder for less than three years. FREED treats people as early as possible, to help them recover faster and avoid complications. After the success of an initial south London evaluation, in 2020 the Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) expanded FREED as a national programme with the Health Innovation Network (HIN) managing the rollout.

To date, the programme has benefited 2,722 young people, leading to full early recovery in approximately 65% and halving the need for costly and disruptive in-patient treatment. The model has now been implemented in over 50 eligible mental health trusts in England, leading to estimated NHS savings of £12.1 million.

Ulrike Schmidt, Professor of Eating Disorders at KCL and Consultant Psychiatrist at South London and Maudsley who has led development and evaluation of FREED said:

Adoption of our programme by the AHSN/HIN has turbo-charged our ability to make FREED available to young people in all parts of England. We are now working to spread and improve the evidence-base for FREED further, both nationally and internationally.

Danielle Glennon, Head of FREED and Head of Psychology & Psychotherapy at South London and Maudsley who alongside Professor Schmidt has been part of FREED’s story since the beginning, said:

The AHSN/HIN programme meant that despite the unrivalled challenges clinicians faced through COVID, we could continue to support teams in making FREED a reality for young people in their area. The commitment, creativity, and willingness to share, as the FREED network grew, is inspirational.

FREED has been shortlisted for the ‘Mental Health Innovation of the Year’ – congratulations to the team and good luck at the awards ceremony in November! 

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