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Inquest due to open into death of Suffolk teenager with anorexia

PUBLISHED: 05:30 28 September 2020 | UPDATED: 12:06 28 September 2020

Averil Hart, who died in 2012 after suffering from anorexia nervosa. Her inquest is taking place in Cambridgeshire from today, Monday September 28 Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Averil Hart, who died in 2012 after suffering from anorexia nervosa. Her inquest is taking place in Cambridgeshire from today, Monday September 28 Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Archant

An inquest into the death of a 19-year-old woman from Suffolk is due to take place from today - almost eight years after she died.

Averil Hart with her father Nic Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYAveril Hart with her father Nic Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Averil Hart, from Newton near Sudbury, died just weeks into her first term at the University of East Anglia in December 2012.

Today, the inquest into her tragic death from anorexia nervosa will open for the first time. Set to last four weeks, the inquest is the last of five held into the deaths of women with eating disorders, all overseen by assistant Cambridgeshire coroner Sean Horstead.

MORE: Coroner to probe whether anorexia teen’s death is linked to four others

Former Colchester Royal Grammar School pupil Averil was the first of the women to die under the care of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT).

She had been an inpatient at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge before she left for university in Norwich in September 2012.

Averil Hart inquest: The Suffolk teenager died just weeks into her first term at the University of East Anglia Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYAveril Hart inquest: The Suffolk teenager died just weeks into her first term at the University of East Anglia Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

While at UEA, she was meant to be monitored closely by health organisations.

However, she failed to have regular check-ups and in early December, the teenager was found collapsed in her room by a cleaner.

The 19-year-old was rushed to Norfolk and Norwich University 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 on December 11 – but she was not seen for five hours.

Averil died on December 15, 2012. Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYAveril died on December 15, 2012. Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

She died on December 15, suffering a heart attack and brain damage from the low blood sugar.

Her family, led by father Nic, has been fighting for justice for Averil over the past eight years.

MORE: Family searching for answers after tragic death of 19-year-old

Last year, it emerged that Mr Horstead was overseeing the separate inquests of five women, including Averil, who died from eating disorders while under the care of CPFT.

Four of the inquests, into the deaths of Maria Jakes, Emma Brown, Madeleine Wallace and Amanda Bowles, have now concluded.

The former Colchester student was born a few days before Christmas Day - and was considered a The former Colchester student was born a few days before Christmas Day - and was considered a "Christmas present for all the family". Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Their deaths span from Averil’s in December 2012, to 24-year-old Miss Jakes’, who died of multiple organ failure in September 2018. Averil’s case is the last to be heard.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) released a report in December 2017 titled ‘Ignoring the alarms: How NHS eating disorder services are failing patients’.

MORE: Damning report slams NHS failings in death of anorexic teenager

It concluded that Averil’s death was an “avoidable tragedy” that would have been prevented had the NHS provided appropriate care and treatment.

The report found every single NHS organisation involved in her care failed her in some way.

The teenager’s inquest starts today, September 28, and is being held across various Cambridgeshire venues, including Peterborough Town Hall and Huntingdon Racecourse.


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