Averil Hart: Anorexia death linked to four others by Cambridgeshire coroner

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Averil HartImage copyright
Justice4Averil

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Averil Hart went to the University of East Anglia to study creative writing

The death of a teenager with anorexia is being investigated alongside four other similar deaths.

Averil Hart, 19, from Newton, Suffolk, died in 2012 after she experienced rapid weight loss while at university.

An email sent by Cambridgeshire coroner David Heming and seen by the BBC said her death was being “linked to four other eating disorder deaths that we are investigating”.

A parliamentary health ombudsman report in 2017 said her death was preventable.

Her father, Nic Hart, said further deaths since his daughter’s were tragic and he was both “angry and sad” that Cambridgeshire & Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) was “not making the changes that are needed”.

CPFT was responsible for Miss Hart’s overall care at the time.

*Warning: Graphic image below*

Image copyright
Justice4Averil

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Cambridgeshire & Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust has apologised to Averil Hart’s family

“It’s incredible that six years after Averil died, we’re looking at further deaths, further tragedies, further families who are grieving for their sons and daughters,” he said.

Mr Hart advised other parents of children with eating disorders to “stay in touch and stay vigilant, never think everything is OK until you are 100% sure”.

Image copyright
Nic Hart

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Averil Hart became severely unwell as a result of her weight loss

Miss Hart became unwell after her A-levels and spent 10 months as an in-patient at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, before taking up a place at university.

The teenager, who was assigned an inexperienced clinician by the CPFT, was found collapsed at the UEA in December 2012.

She was admitted to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, but saw no specialist eating disorders clinician for three days and her condition deteriorated.

She died three days later after being transferred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

The ombudsman’s report criticised all the organisations involved in her care, saying her death was an “avoidable tragedy”.

What is anorexia?

Anorexia is an eating disorder and serious mental health condition

People with anorexia try to keep their weight as low as possible by not eating enough food or exercising too much, or both

This can make them very ill because they start to starve

Signs and symptoms of anorexia in females include periods stopping or not starting (in younger women and girls)

Physical problems can occur, such as feeling lightheaded or dizzy, hair loss or dry skin

Source: NHS

Cambridgeshire & Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust has since apologised to Averil Hart’s family.

In response to the coroner’s investigation, CPFT chief executive Tracy Dowling said that at a hearing in September 2018, the coroner emphasised that when looking at all these deaths, “‘there is nothing more than the potential for the possibility of a common theme or themes to arise'”.

One of the four other eating disorder deaths being looked at by the Mr Heming happened in 2017, while the others occurred in 2018.

If you are affected by any of the issues in this story you can talk in confidence to an adviser from eating disorders charity Beat by calling its adult helpline on 0808 801 0677 or youth helpline on 0808 801 0711.

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