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Felicity Jemmett, 26, dies from long-standing anorexia

PUBLISHED: 10:45 19 September 2017 | UPDATED: 13:16 19 September 2017

Norfolk Coroner's Court in Norwich. Picture: Denise Bradley

Norfolk Coroner's Court in Norwich. Picture: Denise Bradley

Archant 2012

In December last year 26-year-old Felicity Jemmett weighed less than 29kg (4st 7lb) and had a BMI of 11.6.

Doctors became “gravely concerned” about her health, as she appeared emaciated and starving, a Norwich inquest heard.

But their efforts to bring her into hospital were resisted by Felicity, from Dereham, and her father, who was sceptical of medical professionals following the loss of his wife to cancer in 2010. Felicity died at home on the morning of February 21.

The inquest was told her GP Dr Abigail Brun and consultant psychiatrist Dr Jacobus Hamelijnck had been warning Felicity and her father she would die without intervention.

Her first symptoms appeared in early 2010 and “accelerated dramatically”, Dr Brun told the inquest.

“Her father did not want her to be sectioned, feeling she would be better dealt with in the community. There were concerns she was wearing several layers of clothing and heavy boots so weighing was inaccurate.

“Her father expressed contact with us made her more anxious and worsened her condition. I said she would likely die without medical intervention.”

Dr Brun said she made an urgent referral to Norfolk Community Eating Disorder Service without Felicity’s consent in October 2015.

Cognitive behaviour therapist Rachel Woods told the court inpatient admission was discussed but she refused. She agreed to medical monitoring at the GP surgery and specialist support.

“Mr Jemmett stated as next of kin he would not agree to detention under the Mental Health Act. We discussed our concerns Mr Jemmett didn’t appear to see the risks. There were concerns he was colluding with her anorexia and hindering his daughter’s recovery.”

She added: “His behaviour was indirect neglect and one option was to detain her under the Mental Health Act and replace Mr Jemmett as next of kin if he continued to disengage. It was anticipated this would anger him further and he would stop supporting Felicity to attend.

“On January 24 we reviewed and agreed a plan. I went off sick just prior to her discharge. When I returned to work I was told she did not want to continue with therapy and did not want to continue with her GP.”

The medical cause of death was recorded as acute myocardial atrophy and fibrosis with anorexia nervosa.

Natural causes

When Felicity was discharged from hospital after three weeks in January 2017 she had peripheral edema, and the hope was to transfer her to Newmarket House, but no beds were available.

“It is important to stress pressure on beds in eating disorder units is at a premium,” said Dr Hameljinck.

“The agreement was when she was seen on February 28 if she hadn’t made progress she would agree to the admission.”

Area coroner Yvonne Blake concluded Felicity died on February 21 of natural causes.

“There may have been a lack of appreciation by Felicity and her father of the severity of her condition and associated risk,” she said. “Changes have been made and prior to discharge a multi-disciplinary meeting should be held with the GP, and there should be a shared access to records.

“In all the circumstances, she died of natural causes - long standing anorexia”.

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