'I'm being left to die alone' says anorexic woman who survives on a couple of rice cakes a day in Milton Keynes

A woman who is suffering with a severe eating disorder has slammed the lack of help available in the community.

Wednesday, 4th November 2020, 11:23 am
Updated Wednesday, 4th November 2020, 1:08 pm

Hannah Bowen, who is 33, weighs just over six stone and survives on a few rice cakes a day and black coffee.

With a BMI of just 14.5, she spent months earlier this year in hospital, being force fed through a tube because her condition was so critical.

But now, with second lockdown looming, she is living alone at her MK home with no support or therapy at all, she says.

Hannah when she was in hospital earlier this year. The tube has now been removed

"I've been completely left to my own devices and my eating is worse then ever. On a good day I'll eat between five and 10 rice cakes but then follow them up with laxatives so they don't stay in my system.

"On an average day I'll have a couple of rice cakes and black coffee. On a bad day I will eat absolutely nothing."

Hannah is aware the anorexia is taking a serious toll on her body, and knows eventually her organs will fail due to malnutrition.

"I will die if I do not get help. The other night I was vomiting blood and it was horrible, I feel I have been left alone to die in the community and it's scary," she said.

Hannah Bowen pictured being tube fed earlier this year. The tube has now been removed

"I want to get better, I really do. I hate living like this. But there simply is not the support I need available in Milton Keynes. I've been told it's a postcode lottery, and we just don't have the facilities here.

"There is an eating disorder service but it's basically just one man. And there does not seem to be any other therapy at all in the community.

"I was in hospital for months earlier this year but all they can do it tube feed me. They can't cure me. As soon as I'm discharged, the tube has to come out and I don't eat."

To complicate matters further, Hannah suffers from a personality disorder, for which she receives treatment under the Specialist Therapies Team (STT). She has been admitted to the Campbell Centre in the past.

But STT cannot treat the eating disorder, she said.

"They say they can't treat me because my BMI is too low. It's crazy," she claimed.

Mental health services in MK are run by the Central North West London Trust, which is commissioned and paid for by the CCG.

Young people with eating disorders are treated under CAMHS, the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, but Hannah, together with numerous other local adults who are battling with eating disorders, is too old to access their services.

A CNWL spokesman admitted the service for adults with eating disorders in MK was "very small".

He said: “The Eating Disorder Service in Milton Keynes is a very small service – with a Consultant Psychiatrist, Clinical Lead, Nurse, Dietician and Psychology input. But it provides what we are currently commissioned to provide for both adults and CAMHS."

The spokesman added: “For some patients, however, the eating disorder is a symptom of other issues and is not the primary problem. For such patients, support is offered through other mental health services for example our Specialist Therapies team.

"There will also be times that due to the risks presented and when the patient is in crisis that a short stay at the Campbell Centre is needed to maintain safety.”