Nottingham

Mum's 'hell' visiting anorexic daughter hundreds of miles away

Rachel Bannister with her daughter Image copyright Rachel Bannister
Image caption Rachel Bannister's daughter, who is now 18, was treated in Scotland for six weeks because no closer beds were available

A woman whose anorexic daughter was sent hundreds of miles away for treatment because no closer beds were available plans to deliver a "charter of demands" to the government.

Rachel Bannister had to take her severely ill daughter on a flight to Scotland because she could not be treated where they live in Nottingham.

She is campaigning for "properly-funded" mental health services.

Her supporters include actor Ralf Little and TV journalist Mark Austin.

'Didn't want to go on'

"She was in hospital for six months and it was six months of hell going up there," said Ms Bannister.

"I was leaving our other two daughters behind so it really did rip our family apart.

"The longest we were apart was for 17 days and she was ringing me up crying.

"At one point when I left her I remember willing the taxi [to the airport] to crash because I didn't want to go on."

Image copyright Sheila Ravnkilde
Image caption Rachel Bannister held a conference in Nottingham on Saturday

Her campaign group, Mental Health - Time for Action, will deliver the charter to Downing Street on 30 June to coincide with demonstrations celebrating and "defending" the NHS on its 70th anniversary.

Ms Bannister has already met Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt after a letter she wrote to him was published by the Independent in November.

However, she said she "wasn't satisfied with his response" when they met.

The Department of Health said in a statement: "Every child in crisis should get the support they need and it is absolutely wrong for anyone to have to travel hundreds of miles for care at a time when they need the support of friends and family the most.

"We are fully committed to ending the nightmare of inappropriate out-of-area placements for children by 2021."

Image copyright Channel 4
Image caption TV journalist Mark Austin said his daughter Maddy almost died because of anorexia

Ms Bannister met TV journalist Mark Austin when she featured in a documentary he made about his own daughter's struggle with anorexia.

He recorded a video message for a conference Ms Bannister held in Nottingham on Saturday.

"He fully supports our campaign to have intensive outpatient care teams, as his daughter Maddy received, to prevent inpatient stays which worsen prognosis," said Ms Bannister.

Ms Bannister herself has needed treatment for the trauma she went through while her daughter was being treated in Scotland.

Her daughter, who is now 18, was in hospital in Edinburgh for six months from December 2016.

Image copyright Rachel Bannister
Image caption Ralf Little has openly criticised Jeremy Hunt in the past and Rachel Bannister is waiting for confirmation that he will join them to present the charter

"At the airport she had to lie down and the staff questioned whether she should be going on the plane, but I told them we needed to get her up there for the treatment," said Ms Bannister.

She stopped working as a teacher and travelled up to Scotland as often as she could afford to.

She said her daughter was "suicidal" when she came home in June 2017 but was now "doing OK".

"I don't like to be overoptimistic because I think the eating disorder is still there as a coping strategy," said Ms Bannister.

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