Cambridge

The ‘tragic’ death of a student that led to new measures to deal with eating disorders

New measures to deal with eating disorders are being brought in after the "tragic" death of a student who died from anorexia.

Averil Hart, 19, spent 10 months as an in-patient at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

She was discharged to study creative writing at the University of East Anglia, but was found collapsed in December 2012 and taken to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.

She was transferred to Addenbrooke's on December 11, but died three days later.

Averil Hart, whose death from anorexia was an "avoidable tragedy" that would have been prevented had the NHS provided appropriate care and treatment, a damning report has concluded. Photo credit: Family handout/PA Wire

The Ombudsman found there were failings in the way Miss Hart, from Newton, Suffolk, was treated, and that her death could have been prevented.

The county's mental health trust, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS FoundationTrust (CPFT), was asked to apologise in writing to Miss Harts family for the “injustice they suffered as a result of the failings” the Ombudsman found.

CPFT was also told to pay Mr Hart £3,000 compensation, and to explain what they had done to show lessons have been learned and actions taken.

Cambridgeshire County Councils health committee will today (Thursday, July 12) receive an update on what is being done to improve the eating disorder service.

Averil Hart and her father Nic Hart while she was seriously ill in hospital. Photo credit: Family handout/PA Wire

A report from Tracy Dowling, chief executive of CPFT said the trust apologised for Miss Harts death, and noted that changes would be made as a result.

“The trust recognises the failings established in the Ombudsmans Report and is sorry for the tragic death of Averil Hart,” the report reads. “The trust has responded with seriousness to the findings, and has put the action plan in place with good rigour.

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“Anorexia has a high mortality rate and our patients are often classified as high risk. They are also vulnerable to physical ill health and there is more to do to ensure wider understanding of this.”

In early Autumn the trust will lead a regional seminar regarding safe and effective care for patients with severe anorexia nervosa, focused on where care is shared with GPs and where patients present with acute physical ill health.

Averil's death was "avoidable". Photo creditL Family handout/PA Wire

There will also be a “clear focus” on the need for acute staff to recognise life-threateningly ill patients with anorexia, as well as recognising “extreme frailty not usually seen in younger people”.

The service will also work with universities where young people are studying.

According to the report, the service has provided teaching and training to the UEA (University of East Anglia) Counselling Service and also to Anglia Ruskin University counselling services.

When young people in the care of eating disorder services move to the area to start university, the CPFT service will consult with the university or college nurses, as well as support services and student's GPs.

For students leaving the area, CPFT will make contact with their university wellbeing services and the GP.

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