Anorexia inquest: Doctor admits mistake in Cambridge woman's death

Image source, Family photo
Image caption,
Amanda Bowles had a critically low BMI an inquest heard

A doctor treating a woman with anorexia has apologised to her family for not intervening sooner, an inquest heard.

Amanda Bowles, 45, had a critically low BMI and increased risk of sudden death when visited and assessed on 24 August 2017.

Dr Jane Shapleske said she "got the balance of decision wrong" in respect of not organising an admission under the Mental Health Act at that time.

Ms Bowles was found dead at her Cambridge home on 7 September.

The inquest in Huntingdon is the latest to be heard relating to a cluster of five deaths of people with anorexia between 2012 and 2018.

Dr Shapleske, a clinical psychiatrist at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT), was part of a team which found Ms Bowles' body after entering her home to assess her mental capacity.


The assessment was due to be carried out the day before, but was delayed because they could not get into the house and a warrant was issued.

A police welfare check was suggested but Dr Shapleske said she "got distracted by other work unfortunately, I regret not doing it".

She told the inquest she regretted not organising an admission two weeks earlier, but felt Ms Bowles would agree to a voluntary admission when a bed became available and would have been less receptive to treatment had an admission been forced.

Image source, Family photo
Image caption,
Amanda Bowles was found in her Cambridge flat in September 2017

In comments directed at Ms Bowles' family she said: "I took the decision in a way I felt was respecting her, I think I got the balance of decision wrong.

"It weighs incredibly heavy on me. I'm extremely sorry."

Following the visit on 24 August she called Ms Bowles on multiple occasions, but after failing to make contact sent a letter detailing the need for a mental health assessment if she failed to agree to a voluntary admission.

The coroner's court heard a bed became available on 4 September but "because of a staffing crisis" Ms Bowles could not be offered it immediately.

The inquest continues.

If you are affected by any of the issues in this story, you can talk in confidence to eating disorders charity Beat by calling its adult helpline on 0808 801 0677 or youth helpline on 0808 801 0711.

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