Mental Health & Wellbeing

Evaluation of the NSW Service Plan for People with Eating Disorders

InsideOut : Institute for Eating Disorders, 2018


In September 2013, the Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Office (MHDAO) of the NSW Ministry of Health, launched the NSW Service Plan for People with Eating Disorders 2013–2018 (NSW Service Plan). This landmark document positioned eating disorders as core business for the NSW Health care system. The NSW Government, through the implementation of the Service Plan, supported changes in service delivery to facilitate access to treatment and improve care for people with eating disorders, no matter where they live in the state. The NSW Service Plan identified the need for multifaceted integrated care. It required Local Health Districts to build capacity and capability to provide assessment and treatment, with pathways to options for more intense and specialist treatment to be established.


ARTD conducted an independent process evaluation of the implementation of the NSW Service Plan.


The focus was on the progress being made in the implementation of the NSW Service Plan, not on outcomes. It used a mixed-methods design drawing on existing data (performance monitoring, reports and patient data) and collecting new qualitative and quantitative data via surveys and semi-structured interviews with stakeholders. Stakeholders include MHDAO, Implementation Steering Committee Chair, the InsideOut team, Local Eating Disorder Coordinators, clinicians who had completed clinical training packages, Local Health District (LHD) Mental Health Directors, LHD Medical Leads and a small sample of people living with an eating disorder. There was consistency in findings across different data sources, giving confidence in the findings.


The evaluation found that substantive progress had been made in implementing the NSW Service Plan, shifting the NSW Government’s health system response to eating disorders from ad hoc to a state-wide response. The Service Plan had two companion documents to operationalise its vision for change: The Implementation Plan, 2014-2018 and the NSW Workforce Development Plan for Eating Disorders (2016-2018). The Implementation Plan adopted a philosophy of locally led service and workforce development, with state level coordination.

Although a great deal of work had been done and much achieved across the State, the evaluation found over half of Districts were at an early stage of implementation of their Local Plans with considerable work to be done in establishing models of care, protocols for working across teams and clinical pathways.

The evaluation found that to achieve the Ministry expectation that eating disorder services will transition to become business as usual across NSW Health services during the next five years that the work being done must be further developed and sustained, with support for Districts to implement their Local Plans. Recommendations were made to support the next stage.

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