'It's the same email, with a different family name' - Father's plea as inquiry launched into eating disorder treatment changes
PUBLISHED: 12:11 23 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:07 23 April 2019
A father whose anorexic daughter's death was the subject of a national report into the treatment of eating disorders says no improvements have been made to eating disorder services across the country since.
University of East Anglia student Averil Hart was just 19 when she collapsed in her student flat on December 7, 2012.
She was rushed to hospital with a dangerously low temperature, blood sugar and blood pressure – but it was three days before medics realised the seriousness of her illness. Doctors transferred her to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge on December 11 – but she was not seen for five hours. She died on December 15, suffering a heart attack and brain damage from the low blood sugar.
In December 2017, a Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) investigation found every single NHS organisation involved in her care had failed, and demanded widespread changes to be made countrywide.
These included better training for junior doctors, parity between adults and child services, and for organisations to better learn from failings.
New guidelines were announced in September last year, but now the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) has launched an inquiry to find out if improvements had actually been made.
Averil's father Nic Hart, who started campaigning after his daughter's death, said: “We've been writing to [the committee chairman] to highlight the fact that the trusts are not doing anything and people are still dying. I'm just so desperately sad to see others going through what we went through.
“We had to do lots of the digging ourselves in Averil's case, so you rely on families to find out what happened and what went wrong.”
He said they regularly received emails from families with similar stories to theirs.
Mr Hart, who used to live in Sudbury, urged other families with experience of eating disorder treatment to come forward and visit bit.ly/PACAC-ED
Sir Bernard Jenkin MP, chairman of the PACAC, said: “The PHSO's report painted a bleak picture of NHS eating disorder services, but it did set out a way forward to improve care for patients. PACAC will be examining what steps have been taken to implement the report's important recommendations and what still needs to be done to avoid failures in care for patients with eating disorders.”