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Anorexic student Averil Hart 'failed by every NHS body'

Anorexic student Averil Hart 'failed by every NHS body'
From BBC - December 7, 2017

A teenager who died weeks after leaving for university was failed by "every NHS organisation that should have cared for her", a review has found.

Averil Hart, of Colchester, died of a heart attack caused by anorexia in Norwich in 2012.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has found her death could and should have been prevented.

The NHS services involved say changes have been made, with one saying it accepted the report's findings.

Miss Hart, the youngest of three sisters, became unwell after her A-levels at Colchester Royal Grammar School and spent 10 months as an in-patient at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

She was then discharged to study creative writing at the University of East Anglia.

Miss Hart was found collapsed at the university in December 2012 and taken to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital by ambulance but saw no specialist eating disorders clinician for three days after admission, by which time her condition had deteriorated further.

She was then transferred to Addenbrooke's Hospital on 11 December.

Overnight her blood sugar fell to very low levels, but she did not receive appropriate treatment for this and became unconscious, suffering brain damage. She died three days later.

The ombudsman found Miss Hart did not receive "appropriate care and treatment".

"In addition, the local investigation into her death was wholly inadequate with the organisations involved being defensive and protective of themselves, rather than taking responsibility," the ombudsman's report said.

Miss Hart's father Nicholas Hart, who lives in Newton, near Sudbury, said: "As a parent I suppose it is a great relief to finally know that the words you knew were true all along and that Averil's death was avoidable.

"It is good to know that the report itself will enable other children and families to potentially not have to go through what we have been through.

"It was a needless death, it did not have to happen. It took only 10 weeks for her to go from fit and healthy to being at death's door.

"She literally starved to death."

Ombudsman Rob Behrens said: "Averil's tragic death would have been avoided if the NHS had cared for her appropriately.

A charity's response

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