“Anorexia nervosa is not a good way to die,” heartbroken dad tells media

Simon and Jayne outside Huntingdon Town Hall.

Simon and Jayne outside Huntingdon Town Hall. - Credit: Archant

Emma Brown was “remarkable” and “driven”, but her anorexia was “vicious, deadly and destructive”.

Emma Brown and her dad Simon.

Emma Brown and her dad Simon. - Credit: Archant

The parents of 27-year old Emma Brown, from Cambourne, who died following a long battle with anorexia, have thanked medical professionals for caring for their daughter.

The eight-day inquest into her death finished today (Thursday), with assistant coroner Sean Horstead giving a narrative conclusion.

Emma was found dead in her flat in Cambourne, by her mother on August 22, 2018.

A post-mortem examination recorded Emma's medical cause of death as lung and heart disease, with anorexia and bulimia nervosa as contributory factors. Mr Horstead also gave a forth cause of death as personality disorder.

Emma Brown with her Dad Simon.

Emma Brown with her Dad Simon. - Credit: Archant

Speaking outside Huntingdon Town Hall, where the inquest was heard, Simon Brown Emma's dad gave a statement. He was accompanied by Emma's mum, Jayne Edumnds-Grezio.

The statement read: "We would like to thank everyone who contributed to this inquest, the coroner Mr Horstead with his incredible skill in leading the inquest and his focus on finding a way to help other sufferers.

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"Anorexia nervosa is not a good way to die."

"None of you, none of the people who have been following the inquest can understand how much suffering Emma endured and it is heart-breaking to imagine that others might suffer the same.

Emma Brown was found dead at her home in Cambourne in August 2018.

Emma Brown was found dead at her home in Cambourne in August 2018. - Credit: Archant

"We have to find way to tackle this most vicious deadly and destructive illness, this illness kills people like Emma and it breaks up their families, it alienates their siblings, it distances their friends, and it stretched the resources, the skills, and the resilience of medical teams who are trying to help.

"It is not a simple story this. Emma had an eating disorder from the age of 13, and she developed a challenging personality order around 18, this combination made it ever more difficult to help her. It is not as simple as blaming a professional or pointing a series of wrong decisions and a lack on a bed in a specialist unit, it's more complicated than that. There are some important things to ponder on as we reflect on the testimonies that have been given over the last few days.

"How Emma left an indelible impression on the people who were trying to help her, the smiles form Dr Burton, his corridor questions of "are you behaving" and late night conversations with nurse Jenny, and her team on EAU4 and her popping round to see people on S3. I think they all saw the spark in Emma even when it was distinguished. I think another thing to ponder on is the unbearable catch 22 when we realised that she would die if we would try to treat her and she would die if she didn't. And the daunting realisation that we had run out of options.

"I think at the heart of this is the difficulty we have in investing resources in prevention and the recovery strategy of the illness, which might actually reduce the pressure of the emergency care where Emma was in crisis.

Emma and her siblings.

Emma and her siblings. - Credit: Archant

"We need your support to make Emma's legacy a reality. Emma was a force of nature, and we now owe it to others to apply the lessons of Emma's story to meeting the great challenges met by this vicious, destructive and deadly illness."

The former Longsands Academy student, who was the eldest of three children, had been diagnosed with an eating disorder in her teenage years, and then at the age of 18, was diagnosed with a personality disorder. She had been receiving treatment on and off since her diagnosis.

The inquest heard how Emma had also been talented when it came to sport, and was a keen runner, running for 15 miles a day. She was also a member of Swans Swimming Club, in St Neots.

Emma trained with the Bedford Harriers running club under the coaching of Paula Radcliffe's former coach Alex Stanton and won an under-18 British cross-country championships, her mum told the inquest.

Emma and her mum Jayne.

Emma and her mum Jayne. - Credit: Archant

As time went on Emma continued to be in and out of treatment, but was still was losing weight rapidly.

At one point, Emma was stealing thousands of pounds from her parents, spending the money in her favourite restaurants.

By 18, Emma went through a period of sleeping rough before moving to a flat in Cambourne. At this time there were a number of hospital admissions, including a two-year stay in a unit in Surrey.

When she was at home in the final months of her life she relied on the two three-hour home visits a week from support workers.

Emma when she was younger.

Emma when she was younger. - Credit: Archant

The hearing also heard how Emma was a "master at manipulating the system to enable her to carry on doing what she was doing".

Mr Brown has said that he wishes to work with the authorities to help improve treatment for eating disorders.

Concluding the inquest, Mr Horstead said: "I would like to extend my thanks to Emma's parents who have given, evidence and insight and giving clarity of questions.

"Anyone who has heard, will know the way in which they spoke and cared for their daughter. They had the most profound respect for how challenging the care was. My view is that Emma had the appropriate use of care, and the gratitude to have dealt with the most catastrophic circumstances in which will form some hope going forward."

The case of Emma Brown is among five anorexia deaths of patients treated by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust between 2012 and 2018.

Mr Horstead has said that although he describes these as a "cluster of deaths" he has not yet formerly linked them.

A separate inquest into the death of 24-year-old Maria Jakes, who died of multiple organ failure in September 2018, concluded last month that insufficient monitoring of her condition might have played a part in her death.

Separate inquests are due to be held for Amanda Bowles, 45, who died in September 2017, 18-year-old Madeline Wallace, who died in March 2018, and Averil Hart, 19, who died in December 2012.

If you are affected by anything in this article you can call Samaritans on their free helpline 116123. Or you can contact the eating disorder charity BEAT on 0808 801 0677.