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Father of teenage anorexia victim from Sudbury questions credibility of new care report

By Priya Kingsley-Adam

Averil Hart. (2927594)
Averil Hart. (2927594)

The father of a teenage girl, who died from anorexia following a catalogue of care failings, has disputed the findings of a recent report, which claims services have since improved.

Averil Hart, 19, from Newton, near Sudbury, died in 2012 after her condition deteriorated, which was later found to have been avoidable following an inquiry.

Averil had suffered with anorexia nervosa for three years but, after more than 10 months as an inpatient at Cambridge University Hospital, she was discharged to study at East Anglia University in 2012.

Averil Hart. (2927585)
Averil Hart. (2927585)

An investigation conducted by a Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman found the NHS services responsible for her care had missed opportunities to prevent her deterioration between the time she was discharged in August, and her eventual death in December.

The ombudsman found the failure of assessment, co-ordination and planning from the medical services involved had caused her deterioration to go unmonitored.

A recent review into Averil’s death – conducted by the Norfolk Safeguarding Adults Board – claims lessons have since been learned, indicating recommendations from the previous report have been addressed.

Averil Hart. (2927597)
Averil Hart. (2927597)

However, Nic Hart, Averil’s father, who previously called for an investigation into Averil’s care, has disputed the findings, claiming more improvements must be implemented.

“All of a sudden, they produce a report to say things are improving,” he said.

Mr Hart criticised the time taken for the review to be published, after an already prolonged investigation into Averil’s death.

“They have delayed producing the report since the ombudsman said Averil’s death was totally avoidable,” he said.

Averil Hart. (2927600)
Averil Hart. (2927600)

Mr Hart lodged a complaint into Averil’s care with the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman in 2014, with a report of the findings published three years later.

“There’s a five-year cover up saying that everything was satisfactory,” he said. “They kept saying that.

“It took me five years of working every day to get the ombudsman’s report.”

Following his daughter’s death, Mr Hart has repeatedly emphasised the importance of closer monitoring of patients with eating disorders.

“It’s no use waiting until more people die from eating disorders,” he said.

“They need to have a means of checking that these services are improving.”

Averil Hart with father, Nic Hart, on her final admission to hospital. (2927603)
Averil Hart with father, Nic Hart, on her final admission to hospital. (2927603)

Mr Hart has become a staunch campaigner of eating disorders in a bid to raise awareness of the condition, and improve care for patients.

However, he claims medical services are yet to improve their standard of care.

“Things are at a desperate breaking point,” added Mr Hart.

Following the report into Averil’s death last year, Rob Behrens, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, concluded that Averil’s death had been avoidable.

Gill Poole, chairman of the Hull and East Riding Safeguarding Adults Board, suggested in this year’s review that assurances into improvements by the clinical commissioning group should be provided after six months, then again after 12 months.


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