Coroner to reach conclusion over death of anorexic teenager found dead at home
PUBLISHED: 17:08 11 January 2019 | UPDATED: 09:44 12 January 2019
An inquest into the death of an anorexic teenager, who was found dead in her bedroom, will conclude next week.
Ellie Long, 15, died at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) on December 12, 2017, two days after she was found hanged at her home in Greenland Avenue, Wymondham.
The medical cause of death was recorded as hypoxic brain injury, due to cardiac arrest, due to hanging, due to anorexia and depression.
A four-day inquest into her death at Norfolk Coroner’s Court heard from her family and the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust’s (NSFT) Eating Disorder Service (EDS) team and the ambulance trust.
On Thursday, the inquest heard how on December 9, the day before Ellie’s death, her mother Nicki Long called for an ambulance and said her daughter wanted to take her own life.
The call was given a category four rating - which is for less urgent calls - and due to a high demand for ambulances a policy was in place not to attend category four calls.
The following day, Mrs Long called the ambulance again after her daughter was discovered hanged. A crew was dispatched but went to the wrong house.
On the fourth and final day of the inquest on Friday, the court heard evidence from dietician Victoria Marks, who was part of the trust’s EDS team.
Ellie recorded a food diary on an app, in which she described feeling “paralysed, extreme shame and unbearable guilt.”
Ms Marks said she looked primarily at the food diary which was in her area of work, but said the language Ellie used was not uncommon among people with anorexia.
Ms Marks praised the efforts of Ellie’s mum, Nicki Long, in getting her daughter to eat, after Ellie gained around 1kg in weight shortly after being discharged from hospital.
The court heard the EDS team had been “significantly understaffed” at the time of Ellie’s death.
Neil Robertson, who was part of trust’s serious incidents requiring investigation (SIRI) team following Ellie’s death, said there were between six to eight members of staff working in EDS at the time - more than half the guideline of 20 based on the number of referrals they received.
He said the EDS team only had funding to employ 15 members of staff and that recruitment in that area was difficult.
Senior coroner Jacqueline Lake raised concerns of staff not recording hand written notes onto the trust’s electronic system Lorenzo, which Mr Robertson said should have been done to support Lorenzo entries but that the trust’s status of “aide-memoires” was unclear.
Ms Lake adjourned the inquest to give her conclusion on Wednesday, January 16.