A WOMAN with such severe anorexia she has not eaten in over a year is in a fight to receive life-saving treatment in York.

Emma Duffy, 24, relies on liquid nutrition to survive and has tried to kill herself nine times. The former student has been repeatedly sectioned under the mental health act and is currently in hospital in Middlesbrough after trying to take her life.

Her family have said that her hopes of a recovery were dashed last month when they found Emma hadn't been accepted for funding to attend The Retreat in Heslington Road, York - one of the only units in the UK which treats eating disorders and personality disorders together.

A spokesman for The Retreat emphasised it had played no part in deciding funding or Emma's suitability for its services.

Her mum Beverley, 51, said: “Since she found out about the refusal she hasn’t eaten anything – not even the liquid nutrients. She has refused to drink, and has even gone AWOL from hospital and attempted suicide.

“In my opinion, the panel of judges on the board just looked at Emma’s notes and just thought ‘she’s not actually as thin as some anorexic people’ and refused her.

“But Emma is naturally a big girl, her healthy weight is about 12 stone and now she is probably half that."

Beverley said that Emma was really struggling with her mental health at the moment as she also suffers from borderline personality disorder but can just about walk and can communicate.

Beverley and Emma's sister Amy, who live in Chesterfield, have now set up Saving Emma - a campaign aiming to raise enough money in the hope of being able to send her to the unit.

The Retreat spokesman said: "In cases such as these, the usual process is that an individual is assessed by an NHS funding panel and if they meet the required criteria they are referred to external providers such as The Retreat to receive the specialist support they need. The Retreat is an independent charity providing NHS care and plays no part in this decision -making process.

"Treatment in our specialist eating disorder unit is intensive and complex and can deliver life-saving outcomes. All of the people currently using this service are funded by the NHS at an annual cost of approximately £156,000 per annum. Individuals usually stay with us for a maximum of 12 months.

"We have been in touch with the family to share this information with them and also advised them to seek support from their local Healthwatch in finding a way forward."

To support the Save Emma campaign, go to www.facebook.com/savingemmaduffy or visit www.gofundme.com/6osnlw