NHS Partnership Work

First Steps and the NHS Working in Partnership

Working in collaboration with NHS service providers


First Steps has years of first-hand experience of working in collaboration with NHS services. We believe that Derbyshire has one of the most innovative and successful eating disorder partnership services in the UK. In 2011/12, our collaboration with the Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust Eating Disorder Service helped to save over £0.75 million in inpatient care in Derbyshire alone. We aim to help service users and their families move towards recovery.

Our team thrives on hard work, passion and determination and has been involved in designing successful and innovative care pathways for both adult and children’s services in Derbyshire. First Steps works to support NHS Commissioners to design successful eating disorder services, the charity is 100% service user led and works together with dedicated volunteers, staff and members to create a structure that provides appropriate support and to develop the future services of eating disorders in the UK. The services offered by First Steps complement those of the NHS and all treatment and care plans are led by the lead NHS Clinician.

The Derbyshire NHS Eating Disorder team with First Steps have developed a close working relationship and together offer social and practical support to clients who are struggling to increase or maintain their weight.

Outcomes of the partnership work include:

  • Preventative work to reduce deterioration in health and well-being.
  • Reduction the length of hospital admission.
  • Help to make the transfer back home from hospital/eating units easier to manage.

This joint service provides home and community supportive interventions from a variety of options agreed by the Care Co-ordinator as part of the Care Programme Approach (CPA) process and may include: Social activities (for example, going to the cinema or for a walk), confidence building, food shopping, preparing meals,eating at home or in public, volunteering opportunities and help to get back into work, training or education.


“First Steps provides an excellent, innovative community service of self-help activities, complimentary therapies and intensive support for sufferers with eating disorders.

 It is staffed by people who have first-hand experience of living with an eating disorder.

First Steps has developed expertise by experience and by working in partnership with the Derbyshire NHS Eating Disorders Service.  Though its employment of users, ex-users or members of their families, it has established the first service of its kind for eating disorders that operates county-wide in the UK.  This is an outstanding achievement.

Many patients in our service have been helped by the dedication and understanding that First Steps has shown them.  I have heard from individual patients how they have benefited from the passion and commitment of First Steps’ staff.  As a result they have been more motivated towards recovery.

I believe that First Steps, under the inspirational leadership of Cathy Cleary, has developed a model for delivery of care that should be made known to a wider audience.  It has the potential to be set up and delivered throughout the UK.”

Dr Eric Johnson-Sabine   FRCPsych

Consultant Psychiatrist in Eating Disorders

Derbyshire Eating Disorders Service & St Ann’s Eating Disorders Service, London

Hon. Senior Lecturer, University College London Medical School

“First Steps is a pro active and dynamic organisation that has taken initiative in developing a service to provide much needed help to both sufferers and carers in Derbyshire. It has undoubtedly plugged a gap in NHS provision and is run by a highly motivated team of staff and volunteers who have a sensible and pragmatic approach. First Steps approach is also endorsed by the 2004 NICE guidelines for eating disorders which emphasises the role that self-help has to play in supporting those with this disabling disorder.”

Pam Marshall.

Clinical Director Leicester Partnership NHS Trust

“First Steps is quite exceptional in the way that it has burgeoned and extended the number and range of its activities whilst retaining its clarity and original vision. It suggests warmth and sensitivity, whilst being well managed and business like in its organisation.

A look at the website provides a flavour of this successful combination. First Steps works well with NHS services in a way that is complementary rather than complicating. Any prospective funder can be confident that money would be well managed and well spent by this admirable organisation.”

Professor R L Palmer

Consultant Psychiatrist Leicester Adult Eating Disorders Service and Dept of Health Sciences University of Leicester.