Anorexic woman Jade Richards 'failed by lack of staff' says father

Image source, Family photo
Image caption,
Jade Richards died from anorexia earlier this year

The father of woman who died from anorexia said she was failed by a "lack of staff" and funding for eating disorder units.

Jade Richards, 28, from Raunds, Northamptonshire, died on 23 August after 14 years of treatment.

Her dad Ken Richards said: "The government have got a lot more to do with the way they fight this illness."

The Department of Health and Social Care said improving eating disorders treatment was "a key priority".

Mr Richards said his daughter's anorexia began when she was bullied at school, aged 13, and she started "binning her lunch".

Image caption,
Ken Richards said his daughter Jade was "tormented" by anorexia

Jade was treated in hospital 11 times over 14 years, spending time at various units in Cambridge, Leicester, London and Northamptonshire.

Mr Richards said: "The units are under so much pressure to get those girls and boys to a healthy weight.

"But there's a lack of staff, of qualified staff, who know how to talk to the patients."

He said Jade was "failed" and her death could have been avoided "if Jade had the right treatment".

Mr Richards said rather than the inpatient care she had before "Jade would have benefitted from going into a unit during the day," but that was not available in Northamptonshire.

He also said there were similarities between his daughter's death and that of five young women in Cambridgeshire between 2012 and 2018.

In relation to those five cases, the coroner said the system by which many patients with eating disorders were cared for was "a lucky dip".

Image source, Family photo
Image caption,
The family of Jade Richards said not enough is known about anorexia

Mr Richards said: "I promised Jade she wouldn't be another statistic. Things have got to change, it can't go on like this."

Because of Jade's anorexia she contracted osteoporosis, and began to become more frail.

Mr Richards said she felt "institutionalised" and decided she did not want any more treatment.

Earlier this year a court agreed that treatment could be ceased, which Mr Richards said was "tough, but we could see her torment".

Image caption,
Kelly said her and her twin sister Jade were "inseparable"

Her twin sister Kelly said when Jade was treated in specialist eating disorder units "she was Jade again, she had this spark, she was happy".

But when she was discharged from those units "she would spiral down - it was a vicious circle".

"It's really hard to accept she's not here anymore, she was my life," said Kelly.

The Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health services, said it was working with other trusts "to deliver solutions to longstanding challenges in this difficult treatment area".

The government Department of Health and Social Care said it had provided "the largest funding increase in NHS history to transform mental health services".

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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