Advising with empathy and experience

Anorexic student 'failed by every NHS body'.

A teenager who starved to death in a matter of weeks was failed by "every NHS organisation that should have cared for her", a review has found.

Averil Hart, 19, died in 2012 after her anorexia rapidly worsened while studying creative writing at the University of East Anglia, Norwich.

Her father Nicholas said that in only ten weeks she went from fit and healthy to "being at death's door."

Miss Hart, the youngest of three sisters, from Newton, near Sudbury, became unwell after her A-levels and spent 10 months as an in-patient at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, but was discharged so she could go to university.

Miss Hart was found collapsed at the University of East Anglia, in December 2012 and taken to Norfolk and Norwich Hospital by ambulance but did not see a specialist eating disorders clinician for three days, by which time her condition had deteriorated.

She was transferred to Addenbrooke's Hospital on 11 December.  Even though her blood sugar fell to very low levels overnight she did not receive appropriate treatment and became unconscious, suffering brain damage. She died three days later.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) found Miss Hart did not receive "appropriate care and treatment" and in a report added: "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."

Miss Hart's father, Nicholas Hart, said: "It was a needless death. It took only ten weeks for her to go from fit and healthy to being at death's door."

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), Rob Behrens, said: "Averil's tragic death would have been avoided if the NHS had cared for her appropriately. Sadly, these failures, and her family's fight to get answers, are not unique.

"The families who brought their complaints to us have helped uncover serious issues that require urgent national attention. I hope that our recommendations will mean that no other family will go through the same ordeal."

The man who led part of the investigation into Averil Hart’s death, Dr Bill Kirkup,  said: "I hope this report will act as a wake-up call to the NHS and health leaders to make urgent improvements to services for eating disorders so that we can avoid similar tragedies in the future."