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Inquest set to open into death of 23-year-old narcolepsy sufferer

Date: Wednesday 3 August 2016
Time: 9.30
Location: The Town Hall, St Mary’s Hill, Stamford, Lincolnshire PE9 2DR

The inquest into the death of 23 year-old Peterborough woman Kathryn Clack (“Katie”) will open on Wednesday 3 August. Katie developed narcolepsy after receiving the pandemrix swine flu vaccine in 2009 and died on 23 September 2014 after falling from the top of Queensgate car park in Peterborough.

Senior Coroner for South Lincolnshire, Paul Cooper, will look into the events that led up to Katie’s death, examining the actions of the various medical and mental healthcare professionals who had contact with her in the months preceding her death. The inquest, which is expected to last two days, will explore whether there was insufficient intervention and support for Katie in relation to her narcolepsy and mental health problems.

Nursery assistant Katie developed narcolepsy, a chronic, neurological condition, after receiving the pandemrix swine flu vaccine on 8 December 2009. She had been required to have the vaccine due to her work with children. The link between the vaccine and the onset of her narcolepsy was officially recognised after her death by the UK government who agreed to make a payment to her family under the Vaccine Damage Payment Act 1979 on 12 August 2015.

Katie’s family believes that living with this chronic, neurological condition and her resultant medication led to the breakdown of her mental health. She struggled to continue working because of chronic exhaustion and in 2013 she had deteriorated to become acutely mentally ill, becoming a hospital in-patient for a short time. Katie’s mental health seemed to improve somewhat when some of the drugs she was prescribed for her narcolepsy were reduced. However, when her sleepiness worsened her narcolepsy medication was increased and she again began to experience severe mental illness, raising concerns about voices in her head telling her to harm herself.

Katie died on 23 September 2014 as a result of a fall from Queensgate car park. She was the fifth person to die in that location within seven months. Previous inquests had raised concerns about the car park’s failure to erect proper protective barriers.

Katie’s family is represented by Peter Todd and Freya Colvin of law firm Hodge Jones & Allen. They say: “The Clack family have waited a long time for this inquest and hope that it will uncover the circumstances surrounding Katie’s death, considering in particular whether more could have been done to intervene and to help her and whether opportunities were missed that may have ultimately prevented her death.”

ENDS

For further information, please contact:

Kerry Jack or Clare Rice at Black Letter Communications on 020 3567 1208
kerry.jack@blacklettercommunications.co.uk / clare.rice@blacklettercommunications.co.uk

Notes for Editors

About Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a rare and incurable neurological condition, thought to be autoimmune in nature, caused by the disruption of the part of the brain that produces hypocretin, a peptide that regulates the sleep cycle. It is estimated that around 31,000 people (one in 2,000) in the UK may suffer from narcolepsy.

For further information see www.narcolepsy.org.uk or please contact Matt O’Neill, Chair of Narcolepsy UK, on 07825354355 / matt.oneill@narcolepsy.org.uk

Hodge Jones and Allen

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