Scotland politics

MSP whose daughter died of eating disorder leads debate

An MSP whose teenage daughter died after struggling with a severe eating disorder has been raising awareness of the illness at Holyrood.

Dennis Robertson, who represents Aberdeenshire West, led a members' debate on the subject.

His 18-year-old daughter Caroline died last year from the illness.

The SNP MSP called for greater awareness among GPs and medical professionals to enable sufferers to be diagnosed and treated earlier.

In a speech universally described as courageous and moving by MSPs across the chamber, Mr Robertson called for greater awareness among GPs and medical professionals to enable sufferers to be diagnosed and treated earlier.

He told the chamber: "People in the medical profession must become more aware."

Mr Robertson explained that the National UK-based charity Beat, which is holding an eating disorders awareness week from 20 to 26 February 2012, approached him for help.

He dedicated his speech to his daughter.

Public Health Minister Michael Matheson joined his fellow MSPs in praising Mr Robertson's "immensely powerful and courageous speech" and thanked him for using his member's debate to highlight such an important issue.

Mr Matheson said the motion rightly recognised the important work of Beat.

He said the government would publish its new mental health strategy this summer which would impact on the services for people with eating disorders.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Mr Robertson said: "This is Eating Disorders Awareness Week and so is the ideal time to encourage openness about eating disorders.

"The time is overdue for an honest debate about the conditions that lead some people - especially young, smart women - to starve themselves."

He added: "My daughter, Caroline, struggled with a severe eating disorder and died at the age of 19 last year.

"So this is a subject close to my heart and that is why I have put forward this debate."

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