'The doctors said I should have died': Longton dental nurse wins fight for anorexic care
AN ANOREXIC dental nurse whose weight plummeted to less than four stone has won her NHS fight for more treatment.
Doctors told Joanne McGraw, aged 26, of Longton, she could have died when she was first admitted to St George's Hospital in Stafford with the devastating eating disorder last September.
But just as Joanne was starting to recover, she was warned she would no longer qualify for treatment once she was discharged, because she doesn't live in the Stafford catchment area.
Now, after appealing to the Patient Advice and Liaison Service, Joanne has been told she can continue to be treated at the specialist hospital for another 12 months as an outpatient.
And Joanne is now looking to the future after her body mass index (BMI) has increased to 17.5 – and she weighs in at a more healthy six stone.
Joanne, who is currently treated at the hospital five days a week, said: "I was under four stone with a BMI of 11 when I was admitted.
"It was critically low. The doctors said I should have died. When I looked in the mirror, I knew I had to put on weight.
"I was feeling really terrible. I had no energy. I found it hard to walk around because I had pain in my knees. I had basically hit rock bottom.
Joanne, of Pevensey Grove, had been suffering from anorexia since the age of 15, but said that things worsened when her mum Patricia died three years ago, aged 59, from breast cancer.
She said: "At first I started cutting out certain foods like red meat and exercising. I was just trying to eat healthier but it soon got out of hand. I was really close to my mum and when she passed away, it all went downhill from there.
"It's a lonely disease and it cuts you off from everyone. I stopped going out. My friends never really said anything to me but they knew I was ill. I found it difficult to talk to people about my eating disorder because they just didn't understand.Going into St George's has given me a new perspective on things. It has saved my life."
But Joanne says her journey to recovery is far from over and she thanked Stoke-on-Trent Primary Care Trust (PCT) for allowing her to be able to continue to have appointments outside her home catchment area.
Joanne, who quit her job in 2010, said: "I was advised that once discharged, I would be seen by a general health nurse but nobody specialised in eating disorders. They said I would have to move to Stafford. This is the first time I've had proper help and I don't want it to stop. I'm terrified of ending up like I was when I was admitted."
Joanne's dad Michael, aged 63, said: "We all became really worried when we were told Joanne wouldn't be able to attend as an outpatient.
"She was terrified she would end up back how she was."
A spokeswoman for the PCT said they do not discuss individual cases, but added that managers can sometimes arrange for specialist care to be provided.