beatBirch Ward at West Park Hospital in Darlington has been awarded eating disorders charity Beat's 'Assured Quality Mark' in recognition of its good practice in specialist inpatient care and treatment for adults living in the area.

Birch Ward, which is part of the Northern Centre for Eating Disorders, has 15 inpatient beds for adults with anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and eating disorders not otherwise specified.

Louise Dunne of Beat, who carried out the assessment, said: "The Beat Assured Accreditation highlights a dedicated staff team continuing to develop a newly commissioned service which is already demonstrating areas of excellence within their practice.

"My staff who helped undertake the assessment were impressed by the positive and highly motivated staff team on Birch Ward. Patient feedback supported an 'empowering' approach to them and their care and treatment and carers felt well supported both on the ward and within the community."

Accreditation lasts for 3 years and follows a rigorous assessment by Beat staff and volunteers. This included a visit to the service and discussions with current patients and their parents, comparing their experiences to key 'Beat Assured Standards' including initial contact, access, physical environment, treatment, family and carer involvement, involvement in decisions and developments, and ending care and treatment.

Tammy Teasdale, ward manager, said: "Staff and patients alike at Birch Ward are thrilled to achieve this accolade from Beat. The new specialist inpatient eating disorder centre has been open for nearly two years now and this national accreditation is recognition of how dedicated the team are to providing the best possible care and treatment."

A newly-opened enhanced community day service should further improve on-going treatment and support, as leaving the unit is not considered 'the end of treatment'. Birch Ward's commended model of physical health care, managed on the ward by a dedicated physician and full-time specialist physical health nurses, helps patients to remain on the ward, where otherwise they may need to be transferred to alternative services.

Nina Du Feu, head of services for Beat, concluded: "Increasingly more services are choosing to achieve the Beat Assured quality mark as it is recognition of good practice within services, involving patient and carer participation and demonstrates the commitment to continue to provide a quality service."