So this thing happened…

Where I became really pissed off at the system and how crap it is and how hard it is to access care, and I wrote this letter to Jillian Skinner (the minister for health here in Aus) and I’d really appreciate it if you gave it a squiz and got pissed off too. ‘Kay, thanks.

Dear Ms Skinner,

My name is Rebekah McAlinden, and I am a 22 year old woman currently residing in the Wollongong region. I write to you today to bring to your attention an issue that is very close to my heart, that I greatly feel needs to be addressed – not just locally, but state-wide. Nation-wide,even. But perhaps that’s a little ambitious right now.

I am a sufferer of Anorexia Nervosa, a severe illness which has dramatic physical and mental consequences. Within the last year and a half, I have been hospitalised at Wesley Private Hospital, located in Ashfield, Sydney, 5 times at times for up to 2 months and will soon be heading back in. I have struggled both with restrictive eating and compulsive overexercise, and have not been immune to the physical consequences – extreme lethargy, muscle wastage, amenorrhoea and osteopenia, to name just a few. I regularly see a GP in Shell Cove – a GP, might I add, who has gone above and beyond to learn as much as she can about the nature of eating disorders – and thus the physical aspect of my illness has been treated incredibly thoroughly. Not all sufferers are as blessed as I am when it comes to this, and many GPs are simply uneducated in the eating disorder department – and mental health, in general.

In the local area, the only treatment that is provided for eating disorder sufferers is given through the Illawarra Eating Disorders Service – a public service which is inundated with patients, desperate for adequate care. Whilst the team – consisting of one dietitian and one psychologist only – do the very best they can, they are surely simply overwhelmed by the number of patients they see.
For adequate treatment, many people have to travel to Sydney. I have been hospitalised with other individuals who have travelled as far as Dubbo, and Canberra to be in Wesley Hospital. I was even once there with an older woman who lived in Brisbane!

I write to you today because I have a friend who was hospitalised at the start of the year in Shellharbour Hospital for medical complications of her eating disorder – an admission to the dementia ward, because there was nowhere else the hospital was able to place her. I write to you today because another of my friends had a planned readmission to Wesley Hospital, and has been waiting 5 weeks longer than she should have. I write to you because there are only TWO beds state-wide for patients suffering at the hand of their eating disorder, public beds located at RPA in Sydney, beds that are incredibly difficult to obtain. I write to you because I desperately need a bed in Ashfield Hospital, and I won’t be able to get one for at least another month. I write to you because I travel to Sydney weekly to see a dietitian privately – care that is necessary, but costly. And I write to you today because three weeks ago, a beautiful girl whom I was in treatment with died due to medical complications of her eating disorder – 1 of the 1 in 5 sufferers who WILL die as a result of their eating disorder, due to medical complications or suicide.

I write to you today, Ms Skinner, because this is not okay. There needs to be more education provided to General Practitioners about the nature of eating disorders, and more education to the general public who are sadly misinformed about the nature of eating disorders. There needs to be more prevention tactics put in place to minimise the number of individuals who need to be hospitalised for their eating disorder. And if these prevention tactics are NOT employed, there needs to be better care provided for sufferers and their families – care that is easily accessible and reduces the number of deaths from this illness.
Individuals of all ages are suffering greatly at the hand of this illness and it breaks my heart. Simply put, it is unfair. So much of this could be prevented. Much better care could be provided.

And so I call on you, Ms Skinner, to please address this situation. To bring it to the governments attention that this is happening, and that this is real. That this is WRONG, and that things need to change – that the situation is dire, and the situation is worsening at a rapid rate.

I thank you too for taking the time to read this letter. I do appreciate it very much and I thank you in advance for your response.

Yours Sincerely,

Rebekah McAlinden



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