Young anorexia patient dies in hospital after ‘failings’ in her careMegan Orito
Young anorexia patient dies in hospital after ‘failings’ in her care.
Claire Greaves’ heartbroken parents said the failing were ‘shocking’
Claire Greaves developed a fear of food when she was just five years old.
As she grew older she said her eating disorder became her “identity” and led to her becoming dangerously underweight.
Before long her mental health spiralled out of control to the point where she was suicidal and needed lengthy spells in hospital.
But Claire deteriorated further and in February 2018 she died at the age of just 25.
(Image: Western Mail)
An inquest into her death found a catalogue of failings in her care when she was a patient at Cygnet Hospital in Coventry where she was segregated from her family for weeks on end.
An inquest jury found that:
- Claire’s mental state declined following long-term segregation and seclusion
- Staffing levels at the hospital “probably caused or contributed” to her death
- There was a failure to increase observations despite Claire making numerous self-harm attempts in the days prior to her death
- Claire’s care plan could have been followed had there been sufficient staff on duty
- There was a failure in allowing Claire to be alone in her room prior to her death, contrary to her care plan.
Claire had campaigned for better mental health support for young people
Claire’s parents Colin and Debbie Greaves said they were unable to contact their daughter for several weeks when she was placed in seclusion and long-term segregation.
“While she was in seclusion we had no access to her,” Colin told BBC Wales.
“We weren’t allowed to visit. The only contact we had was when we did manage to get a phone call from Claire that raised our concerns about what had been taking place while she was in seculsion.
“She told us that she had no furniture in the room, that her mattress was brought in at night for her to sleep on and then taken back out.
“She also mentioned that there had been poor support for her hygiene whilst she was in there.”
The inquest heard that Claire took her own life while in a hospital room alone.
“At the time it felt quite numb. It seems unbelievable that it can happen,” he added.
“They have these systems in place to make sure they can manage healthcare properly, but they can easily just ignore them and carry on in another way.
“The failings were quite shocking.”
Colin said he believed moving his daughter from Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny to Cygnet in May 2017 would have helped his daughter. But the fact it did not meant he has now felt guilt as well as loss.
Claire with her mum Debbie
Despite her problems, Claire avidly campaigned for better mental health support for young people and wrote candidly about her experiences.
Speaking about her time in secondary school, she wrote in April 2016: “I felt geeky, ugly and hated myself.
“I began to walk for hours before school, I’d barely eat anything and anything that was eaten would be thrown up.
“I was self-harming several times a day and overdosing at the back of class.
“At this point I didn’t even know that I had a mental illness.”
Claire aged four
She said once she left school, anorexia and depression began to “grip their hands tighter and tighter” around her neck.
She said her life became a big blur of hospital admissions, detentions under the Mental Health Act, numbers, scales and suicide attempts.
“Growing up I wanted to be a nurse or a dancer – battling severe mental illness was not a part of the plan,” she said.
“Many months of my life have been spent surviving – or dying – on very little food. I would eat so little food that my body couldn’t keep itself warm.”
An inquest jury reached an open conclusion and did not decide it was suicide. They felt that care failings had contributed to her death.
Before Claire’s death, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) had already raised concerns about Cygnet.
It found recruitment and retention of staff was difficult with a high turnover which led to a shortfall in training and supervision levels.
In response to the inquest, a Cygnet Health Care spokesperson said: “We were deeply saddened by Claire’s death in February 2018 and we continue to extend our sincere sympathies to her family.
“Cygnet cooperated fully with the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Claire and we noted the recommendations made during the inquest.
“We have already implemented a number of measures to address the key learnings from this and we will ensure that we comply fully with all of the recommendations made.
“As part of our duty of care and commitment to always protecting the confidentiality of the people we support, we are not able to comment specifically on any individual person. The wellbeing of the people we support is always our absolute priority.”
A spokesman for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said: “The health board wishes to offer its sincere condolences to Ms Greaves’ family.
“We have undertaken a full review of the board’s role in commissioning Ms Greaves’ placement at Cygnet Hospital and are currently implementing a number of recommendations to review placements for individuals with complex needs.”
Creative Commons Disclosure
About The Mandatory Training Group
The Mandatory Training Group is the leading provider of e-learning and mandatory training courses and qualifications that meet current UK laws and regulations.
Saving lives is our top priority. Thus, we have far-reaching programs necessary to help healthcare professionals in understanding the significance of working in accordance with the fundamental standards of care in order to ensure effective safeguarding of vulnerable people from the risks of preventable harm and death. We also have CQC compliant courses to guarantee safe and well-led treatments. Click on the links below for courses associated with raising mental health awareness and support.
- Mental Health Awareness – Level 1 – Online CPD Accredited Training Course
- Care Certificate Standard 9 – Awareness of Mental Health, Dementia & Learning Disability
- CQC Compliant Statutory & Mandatory Training – 24 CPD Accredited Online Courses
- Mandatory Training for Healthcare Professionals – Meet CQC Requirements
- Fluids & Nutrition Training – Level 1 – Online CPD Accredited Course
Contact our Support Team on 02476100090 or via Email to have a full discussion on our wide-ranging programs relating to CQC compliance and mental health.