CHILDREN and young people with eating disorders are being ‘let down’ by health authorities with many waiting more than the four week target for treatment.

Leading mental health charities have warned that a 'postcode lottery' is leaving many youngsters struggling to access the care they need.

Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust which provides treatment for such disorders in the county said it had been working to improve the situation.

NHS guidance says that patients should begin treatment within four weeks of referral, or within one week for urgent cases.

However, according to trust figures, just 68 per cent of non-urgent cases in Oxfordshire were seen within the four-week window.

While 93 per cent of urgent cases were seen within seven days.

The Government says that all NHS trusts and other healthcare providers need to be meeting their targets for waiting times in at least 95 per cent of cases by the year 2020.

Oxford Health operates a specially commissioned CAMHS eating disorder service across the whole of the county which can be accessed by any young person in Oxfordshire provided they meet the necessary criteria.

Service director for children and young people at Oxford Health, Donan Kelly said there had been a ‘significant amount of work’ to understand why waiting time targets hadn’t been met.

Mr Kelly added: “In most instances the failure to see someone is due to matters out of our control, e.g. the patient fails to show for an appointment or the young person and their family aren’t available to meet with a clinician within the timeframe required to ensure they don’t breach our access and wait times.

“In most of these instances the young person is usually seen within one to two days of the deadline.

“The result of this work is that we are currently seeing 100 per cent of urgent cases within seven-day timeframe and 92 per cent of routine cases within the four-week deadline.”

Tom Quinn, of eating disorder charity Beat, said: “We are concerned there is so much variation - early treatment is crucial and some trusts are playing catchup.

“We would urge all CCGs to look at the findings and to ensure that there is proper investment in their area.”

Oxfordshire CCG said it had a five year forward view and was investing in comprehensive community eating services for young people while working towards the national mandatory waiting times.