A TEENAGER with anorexia chose to leave the hospital where she was regaining weight because she was determined to go to university, an inquest has heard.

Averil Hart, 19, was discharged from the eating disorder clinic at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge in August 2012 and started her creative writing course at the University of East Anglia in Norwich the following month.

The teenager, a former Colchester Royal Grammar School student, lost weight during her first term and was found collapsed in her room on December 7.

She died in hospital in Cambridge on December 15 2012.

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Dr Jane Shapleske, a consultant psychiatrist for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, said Averil weighed around 45.2kg when she left hospital in August, less than her target weight of 50kg.

“There was no pressure for her that she needed to go at the beginning of August,” Dr Shapleske told the inquest.

She said Averil was deemed to be at high risk of relapse but she had spoken of her wish to go to university, where she had an unconditional offer.

Dr Shapleske described the offer as a “massive motivation for her”.

“She thought, ‘I really want to go to UEA’,” she said. “She set herself a really ambitious target.”

Dr Shapleske said Averil was gaining a kilo per week from February to May 2012. She said Averil worked best when she came forward with her own plan, she said.

Dr Shapleske ruled out detaining Averil under the Mental Health Act.

She said: “We would have talked about the pros and cons and risks attached” of each of her options.

Dr Shapleske said remaining in hospital to regain more weight with increasing periods of home leave would have meant Averil would not have gone to university.

If she was discharged home to work with health services in the community then “boredom and lack of structure was a risk factor”, Dr Shapleske said.

Referring to Averil’s decision to leave hospital and go to university, Dr Shapleske said: “We were in a difficult position because she decided on a course of events that was risky.

“What we did at the time was do our best to provide a solution so she had a point of contact that she had a good relationship with and she had medical monitoring at the GP surgery.”

She added: “I understand the rationale that she had. There was about seven weeks between discharge and her arriving in Norwich.”

Assistant Cambridgeshire coroner Sean Horstead is overseeing the separate inquests into the deaths of five women, including Averil, who died from eating disorders while under the care of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust.

  • The inquest continues.