When my daughter died NHS managers ‘concocted a plan’
- Credit: Archant
The father of a Suffolk teenager who died from anorexia has said a “gloating” email sent by an NHS manager echoes how another trust handled his daughter’s case.
UEA student Averil Hart, from Sudbury, was just 19 years old when she died in December 2012. Five years later, it emerged every single NHS organisation involved in her care had failed her.
In their seven-year fight for answers, Nic Hart and his family say NHS chiefs at the Cambridge and Peterborough Foundation Trust (CPFT) have displayed a similar attitude to that in last week's NSFT email, which bragged the trust had "got away with it"."It is disappointing that this attitude prevails widely," he said.
"In our case the senior clinician said she had 'concocted a plan' after Averil had died.
"The email sent by the NSFT communications manager very much echoes how the CPFT dealt with Averil's case."
MORE: 'Got away with it' - NHS manager gloated about coverage of dead great-grandmotherHis remarks come as it emerged CPFT, which runs the Norfolk Community Eating Disorder Services, has spent nearly £100,000 to date in legal fees relating to her case.
Mr Hart claims the following actions have been taken by CPFT in the years since Averil's death:
- A senior medic at CPFT telling colleagues in an email, seen by this newspaper, that she had "concocted a plan" about how to deal with an Ombudsman complaint from Mr Hart
- Material relating to Averil's case being deleted - this is acknowledged in the Ombudsman report- Averil being removed as an anonymous case study from a draft version of national guidelines on the management of severe anorexia nervosa (MARSIPAN)
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This last action is currently being investigated by a legal team, after an email stated the removal of Averil's case study was a "matter of urgency" and there was "reputational damage of the service and trust at stake".
Mr Hart, who also revealed he is still waiting for his daughter's inquest, which has now been pushed back from its anticipated date of March 2020 to the end of this year, added: "For them it is about the presentation to the wider world when these tragedies happen.
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"The NHS has spent £100k on legal fees in Averil's case - it is a total waste, we need that money to be spent on care.
"It is not just one incident. It adds up to a sense of short term reputation manager rather than care.
"These people see it as their job to protect the organisation, and they lose sight of the fact of where they are working."
MORE: 'I'm angry, shocked and dismayed' - NHS boss to launch investigation into culture following bragging emailThe 2017 Ombudsman report based on Averil's case found responses to Mr Hart's complaints were "equally unsatisfactory, and often appeared defensive or protective of the organisation concerned".
PHSO Rob Behrens wrote that some information stored in electronic format turned out to have been deleted - and found the decision to delete material related to a significant safety incident was "ill-considered and inappropriate".
He added: "Individually, these failures are seriously unsatisfactory.
"Taken collectively, they paint a consistent picture of unhelpfulness, lack of transparency, individual defensiveness and organisational self-protection that is of great concern."
Bosses at the CPFT did not want to comment.