Thursday 12 December 2019

First anorexia case involving a male comes before court

The Four Courts, Dublin
The Four Courts, Dublin Newsdesk Newsdesk

The first case here of a young male with the eating disorder anorexia nervosa has come before the President of the High Court.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly said today that while he has dealt with a series of cases involving females with the psychiatric disorder, the first case of a male with the disorder had recently arisen.

The judge gave no further details concerning the case of the male, which was not before him on Monday.

He made the remarks when dealing with the case of a 16-year-old girl with severe anorexia.

Due to the absence of any specialist facility here for those with anorexia, the girl's detention in a UK facility was ordered by the judge last summer, when she was aged 15.

The detention order was sought by the HSE in circumstances where, due to her then deteriorating condition, detention and treatment in the UK was considered necessary to save her life.

On Monday, the judge heard the girl has made good progress in the UK facility and the team involved in her care and treatment considered her detention as an in-patient is no longer necessary and she can return home to Ireland.

According to a report before the court, she has returned to normal weight but there remain some outstanding issues associated with anorexia.

A plan for future treatment has been prepared, which provides for her to commute to England weekly to attend the hospital as an out-patient.

She will also continue to be treated by her therarapist there. The plan also involves arrangements for regular family therapy and for the girl to resume attending secondary school here on a phased basis.

The plan was supported by the HSE and lawyers for the girl's parents and her court-appointed guardian.

Counsel for the guardian said the girl believed the court's intervention had benefited her.

In his ruling, Mr Justice Kelly said the girl was one of a number of young people with anorexia whose cases had come before the court.  While cases to date had all involved females, a case involving a young male had recently arisen, he said.

The female patients, to date, had all been sent to facilities in England because there is no suitable facility here, he said.

In this case, the girl had made "remarkable and commendable" progress and this contrasted with the other cases he had dealt with where "very little" progress was made.

The judge said the treatment team considered her detention as an in-patient was no longer required. The HSE was willing to fund an after-care programme involving her returning to Ireland to live at home but travelling to the UK one day a week for a number of months to be treated as an out-patient at the UK facility.

He made orders, to come into effect shortly, ending her detention in the UK facility but granting liberty to apply at very short, "or virtually no notice",  to the court should there be any deterioration in the situation. 

He made further orders discharging the girl's guardian because the court proceedings had come to an end. If the case was re-entered, the guardian could be again involved but the corut's preference was that a normal situation, where the girl and her parents and dcotros liaise about her treatment, should operate without court intervention, he said.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News