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Father's anger over daughter's anorexic care
A FATHER has criticised care given to his anorexic daughter a fortnight before she died at their Hampshire home.
Peter Rae was giving evidence at an inquest into the death of his daughter, Alice. Her mother Christine found the gifted student dead when she went to wake her at the family's home in Houghton, near Stockbridge.
The 18-year-old, who had been offered a place at Cambridge University, was admitted to Winchester's Royal Hampshire County Hospital on December 29 last year. She was sent to hospital after telling a doctor she had spent the Christmas period sleeping all but four hours of each day.
"We had very grave concerns [about her discharge] with very good basis," said Mr Rae, a company director. "We had been told on admission she would be in for a number of days.
"We were very surprised she was discharged after 20 hours with no instructions other than to resume the treatment programme that was not working."
Winchester Coroner's Court heard that Miss Rae had become so weak she was unable to walk more than 50 yards and doctors at RHCH had discussed fitting her with a heart pacemaker.
Dr Ward, a GP at Stockbridge surgery, who saw Miss Rae on January 13, the day before her death, said: "I have to say I was surprised that she was discharged that early.
"I did ring [RHCH] on December 30 and spoke to the medical admissions unit and was told she was an inpatient with no plans for discharge."
Asked whether it was common for an anorexic sufferer to spend such a short time in hospital, Dr Neil Joughin, a consultant psychiatrist, said: "It certainly happens but I do think that's too short a period."
Isabel Lewzey, who treated Miss Rae at an eating disorders clinic in Eastleigh, said her client had been angry about the treatment she was receiving.
"She felt that we were not taking her condition seriously enough and that she needed more than outpatient individual therapy."
But, she added, when offered the option of intensive course of treatment, Miss Rae declined.
Sarah Whitby, assistant deputy coroner for central Hampshire, recorded a narrative verdict and said Alice died from unascertained causes.
She said: "She had been suffering from anorexia from at least May 2006 for which she was receiving treatment at varying levels of success."
Speaking after the inquest, Mr Rae, said: "Obviously it's been a very sad year for us and it was very distressing losing a daughter.
"We accept everyone has done their best today," he added. "It's a very difficult illness and its treatment is far from easy."
Mrs Rae said: "She was a very bright and engaging young girl and we'll miss her very much."
A spokeswoman for Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust said: "Alice was admitted to the Royal Hampshire County Hospital on 29 December 2008 for treatment for low potassium levels.
"She was discharged from the hospital on 30 December 2008 following a review by a consultant physician and an external psychiatric team.
"Her potassium levels had risen and she was prescribed potassium chloride tablets to take home and given nutritional advice by the dietician about optimising her potassium intake.
"She had an appointment with a private psychiatrist the following week and was due to reviewed by the Eastleigh service for eating disorders."
Nick Yeo, chief executive of Hampshire Partnership NHS Trust, which runs mental health services in the county, said: "The unforeseeable death of an intelligent young woman like Miss Rae is a tragedy and our deepest sympathies are with her family and friends. The staff who worked with Miss Rae have also been saddened by her death.
"This case highlights that eating disorders are incredibly complex and treatment has to be needs-led. People with an eating disorder can know the risks but the illness can over-ride rational decisions."