Pip McManus died three years after becoming ill with an eating disorder. Her parents explain how medical care failed their daughter
Marie McManus wants to show me the final photograph taken of her daughter Pip. It was 9 December 2015, and the 15-year-old is standing on the platform of a railway station five minutes walk from the family home. In the CCTV image, Pip is wearing a red hoodie and looking up the track to see if her train is coming. But shes not going to get on it.
Everything about what happened to Pip McManus is shocking. The terrible way she died; the extent of her illness; the inadequate response of caregivers to her medical condition, which was cited by an inquest jury as a contributory factor in her death. But perhaps whats most shocking is that her parents, Marie and Jim, were fobbed off and belittled time after time by staff of the very healthcare system they so desperately hoped could help her. For the McManuses, it was like watching Pip die in front of them in slow motion, across three years of hell.
Our big fear, all along, was that she was going to become just another statistic, says Marie. The McManuses desperately hope that their story can change what happens to the Pips of the future. Well never know if her death [she was hit by the train] could have been prevented, says Marie, for the simple reason that no one ever really tried to prevent it.
The McManuses live outside Stockport, in a house that Jim, a builder, works on in the spare moments when he isnt working on someone elses house. He and Marie, whos on leave from her job as a healthcare assistant in a hospital, have three older children. Pip, who was their youngest, was born in the first month of the newmillennium.
They were a happy, close-knit clan, and the siblings got on well. Amid the normal hurly-burly of family life, no one paid much attention when Pip, who was then 12 and had always been tomboyish, started saying her chin looked too fat. Nor did Marie think anything of it when, on a few occasions, she discovered Pips packed lunch uneaten in her schoolbag. She had found it difficult settling into her secondary school but so do many kids. It wasnt until Christmas that alarm bells began to ring. She was obsessing about food, says Marie. She wouldnt have butter in her mash, she only wanted protein, and she wasnt eating anything sweet.