An Inquest into the tragic death of 36-year-old Nichola Lomax is due to commence on Monday 29th November 2021 before Her Majesty’s Senior Coroner Joanne Kearsley at Rochdale Coroners Court.

Nichola Lomax tragically died at the age of just 36 years old on 3rd August 2020. Nichola had a long history of an eating disorder and was well known to the Eating Disorder (ED) Service.

Throughout the course of 2020, Nichola and her family were desperately trying to seek help for her deteriorating physical health. Nichola’s GP made a number of referrals to The Priory for Nichola to be admitted as an inpatient to receive specialist treatment for her eating disorder. These requests were declined and The Priory would not accept her directly to an inpatient bed, on the basis that she was too unwell and the advice was that Nichola needed medical stabilisation. Community dieticians wrote to Nichola’s GP in January 2020, informing them that they did not offer the service for eating disorder patients and therefore were unable to help.

Nichola attended the A&E Department at Fairfield General Hospital, Bury on numerous occasions between January 2020 until the date of her death. She was discharged home on each occasion.

By the end of July 2020, Nichola weighed just 4 stone and re-presented to A&E on 27th July 2020 at the suggestion of the GP, again because of her abnormal blood results. Within 24 hours, her blood tests across the board were deteriorating and over the next 5 days, Nichola descended rapidly into multiple organ failure and sadly died.

The Northern Care Alliance Trust have already accepted that there was a failure to raise awareness of and implement MARZIPAN guidance, a national guidance to clinicians assessing and managing the physical health of patients with eating disorders. Had the clinicians been aware of this guidance, it is accepted that Nichola should have been admitted to the hospital on each attendance during 2020, and a plan made for re-feeding prior to discharge.  They accept that re-feeding could have taken place with Nichola’s consent.  Had Nichola not consented, input should have been sought from the psychiatry team to determine whether Nichola should be sectioned under the Mental Health Act for forced re-feeding.  They accept that Nichola should not have been discharged until it was agreed by the Multi-Disciplinary Team, including specialist input from the Serious Eating Disorder Unit if appropriate, that it was safe to do so.

This Article 2 inquest will hear evidence from a number of medical professionals involved in Nichola’s care and treatment, from a number of different healthcare organisations, in establishing how and in what circumstances she came by her death.

Kelly Darlington of Farleys, solicitors for the family, said “this is extremely tragic case in which a patient with a serious psychiatric condition and in desperate need of help and treatment was passed from pillar to post. It is hoped that the inquest process goes some way in helping the family come to terms with the loss of their daughter and sister and that those that let her down are held accountable in ensuring that that this does not happen to anyone else.”

The family will be represented at the inquest by Kelly Darlington, of Farleys Solicitors and Sam Harmel, of Kings Chambers.