Gaia Pope investigation: Email sent to wrong address impacted teen’s care

AN EMAIL that allegedly sparked more support for Gaia Pope was sent to the wrong address, an investigation has heard.

Ms Pope was found dead in cliff-top undergrowth in Swanage 11 days after she went missing in November 2017.

An inquest, which began last week and will last 11 weeks, has learned how the consultant neurologist who ‘assumed’ control of her epilepsy care from March 2017 only met the young woman once 19 years old.

READ MORE: Hypothermia could have caused teenager to ‘hide and die’

Professor Matthew Walker, a consultant neurologist at University College London (UCL), told the hearing at Bournemouth Town Hall that there was a “lack of communication” between community psychiatric teams and neurological care in England and Wales.

The inquest heard Prof Walker was not told Ms Pope had been severed under the Mental Health Act the month before he saw her in March 2017.

Prof Walker only met Ms Pope on this occasion and admitted he would not have known if she had died between March 2017 and November 2017.

He said it was likely Ms Pope would have undergone surgery to treat her epilepsy, which would have given him a 50 per cent chance of leaving her seizure-free.

For six months, however, there was a delay in completing assessments of her eligibility for surgery and Professor Walker ‘could not understand’ why there had been a delay.

Dorset Senior Coroner Rachael Griffin expressed concern about the lack of communication between the teams managing Ms Pope’s care, telling Prof Walker it was ‘unsafe to assume’.

Echo of Bournemouth:

READ MORE: Teenager likely to be dead ten days before found

An email from a carer at Dorset County Council asking Prof Walker to send a letter of support to help Ms Pope organize her work has been sent to the wrong email address.

Prof Walker said the letter would have ‘triggered’ contact with Ms Pope to review her care.

The neurologist said: ‘I think there is a lack of communication between community psychiatric teams and neurological care in England and Wales.

“I think better communication could prevent future deaths. People with epilepsy are four times more likely to commit suicide, there are high rates of depression and anxiety.

“[Better communication] could be done to improve the lives and also protect the lives of people with epilepsy.

Professor Walker added that Ms Pope not taking her medication could have contributed to her death.

The investigation is continuing.

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