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'NHS ran up £100k legal bill after my daughter's death'

PUBLISHED: 08:33 28 January 2020 | UPDATED: 13:28 28 January 2020

Averil Hart died from an eating disorder aged 19 in 2012. Her dad Nic says he has been trying to get answers from the NHS ever since. Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Averil Hart died from an eating disorder aged 19 in 2012. Her dad Nic says he has been trying to get answers from the NHS ever since. Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

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The father of a teenager has hit out an NHS trust for trying to defend its reputation rather than improving care after her death.

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

UEA student Averil Hart, from Sudbury, died in December 2012 aged 19 from anorexia.

Five years later, an Ombudsman report found every single NHS organisation involved in Averil's care had failed her.

In this seven-year fight for answers, father Nic Hart said NHS chiefs at the Cambridge and Peterborough Foundation Trust (CPFT), which were responsible for Averil's care, had displayed a similar attitude to the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) where a manager gloated last week the Trust had "got away" with bad media coverage after the death of another patient.

"It is disappointing that this attitude prevails widely," he said.

A Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman's report found every NHS organisation involved in Averil's care failed her in some way. Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYA Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman's report found every NHS organisation involved in Averil's care failed her in some way. Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

"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."

His 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 Averil's case.

"It is a total waste," Mr Hart said. "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 management 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."

Mr Hart also hit out at the CPFT for the following actions since Averil's death:

- A senior medic at CPFT told colleagues in an email that she had "concocted a plan" about how to deal with a complaint from Mr Hart

- Material relating to Averil's case being deleted

- Averil being removed as an anonymous case study from a draft version of national guidelines on the management of severe anorexia nervosa (MARSIPAN)

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 added: "For them it is about the presentation to the wider world when these tragedies happen."

Bosses at the CPFT did not want to comment.

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