Inquest hears how young Ipswich woman should have received better care from NHS trust

Former Copleston pupil Rachael Conner did not receive the 'best treatment' from NHS trust.

Former Copleston pupil Rachael Conner did not receive the 'best treatment' from NHS trust. - Credit: The Conner family

A 22-year-old woman should have received better care from an NHS trust prior to her death after experiencing mental health issues and body dysmorphia, an inquest heard.

Suffolk coroner Jacqueline Devonish said Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust should have provided Rachael Conner with a clinician she could liaise with on a consistent basis and the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) she needed to change her thoughts.

The former Copleston High School student was found in the bedroom of her Spring Road home in Ipswich on June 3 following a history of poor mental health and self-harm, which included dissatisfaction with her appearance that she was "too pale and had an ugly forehead and lips".

Her dysmorphia caused her to suffer from anxiety and depression and she had been receiving treatment with anti-depressants and had been seeing a private psychologist. 

Rachael Conner, who lived in Spring Road, Ipswich, died on June 3

Rachael Conner, who lived in Spring Road, Ipswich, died on June 3 - Credit: The Conner family

However, the inquest at Suffolk Coroners' Court heard that the mental health trust had been unable to allocate a clinician to Ms Conner because of a high caseload caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Michael Lyness, clinical team manager with the trust’s Ipswich Young People’s Mental Health Team, said: “There was certainly no feeling that she did not need our service. The challenge that we found was that we had a very large caseload and little capacity so that allocation took longer to make. 

“By the time of her death, she had not been allocated a clinician.” 

Most Read

The hearing heard she had wanted support from a mental health professional who could understand her needs, but she had not been able to build a rapport with previous counsellors. 

Ms Devonish said: “On the evidence I have heard, the best treatment would have been for her to have been allocated a clinician who could have worked with her and explored with her what was going on in her head.

“She wanted a demonstration that the medical professionals understood her and what she needed.”

Her father Mark paid tribute to her during the hearing, describing how she cared deeply about the environment and children and would "take the woes and worries of others on her shoulders as a way of alleviating the burden on them".

He added: “I consider her one of the most humane, caring and sensitive human beings I have ever known. She cared a lot about the environment, life itself and put others before herself.”

Her family also revealed that a fund set up by Ms Conner has so far raised £5,000 for the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation and Suffolk MIND. 

The coroner recorded a verdict of suicide.