Review launched after woman died in supported housing because she could not stop eating

Kirsty Derry suffered from a syndrome that causes a constantly high appetite and was left to control her own food intake

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Indy Lifestyle Online

A review has been launched after a young woman in Staffordshire died because an eating disorder that drove her to massively overeat was not fully treated.

Kirsty Derry was found dead in her supported flat in Stone aged 23 in July 2013, having lived there for under a year.

An inquest found that the fluid in her lungs that prevented her from breathing was a consequence of obesity caused by Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS).

In an inquest on Thursday Staffordshire South coroner Andrew Haigh concluded that she had died of the consequences of a natural condition that was not effectively addressed, the Stoke Sentinel reported.

He said: “Hopefully appropriate lessons have been learned.

“The degree of her capacity (to control her eating) seems to have deteriorated.

“She could understand matters but controlling herself having taken that information in, was a different matter.”

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Kirsty Derry lived in supported accommodation in Victoria Mews

The inquest reportedly heard that Ms Derry had alarms fitted to the fridge and cupboards where she lived in Victoria Mews but they were turned off, with her family raising concerns as her weight quickly increased.

When she died, her Body Mass Index had reached 42.1, classed as obese compared to the “healthy” range of 19 to 25.

According to the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association UK (PWSA), people usually develop the condition in childhood and may suffer medical complications and display challenging learning and emotional behaviour.

It usually causes low muscle tone with motor development delays, short stature, incomplete sexual development and “life-threatening obesity”.

“No effective medications have been found to regulate appetite,” the PWSA said.

“Inability to control food intake is often the biggest obstacle keeping those with PWS from living independently.”

There is no cure for PWS but it is commonly treated with growth and sex hormones, as well as diet regulation and physiotherapy.

Alan White, Staffordshire County Council’s member for social care, described Ms Derry’s death as a “tragic incident”.

He added: “A comprehensive learning review has been undertaken as a result of this, and we have already acted on the recommendations contained within it. 

“We will continue to work closely with our partner agencies to ensure we are sharing information and effectively addressing any issues as they arise. 

“We have also reviewed all of the adults in Staffordshire with Prader-Willi Syndrome to ensure they continue to be offered the support they need, and that any assessed care needs are being addressed.”

Creative Support, which ran Ms Derry’s accommodation, said it was “deeply saddened” by her death and offered its condolences to her family.

“Working closely alongside Staffordshire County Council and their subsequent learning review we have supported the authority in implementing its recommendations,” the company said in a statement.

“Where we provide services to other clients with Prader-Willi Syndrome we have independently reviewed their support to ensure we continue to provide tailored services relative to their diagnosis.”