Peterborough nursery nurse fell from car park ‘after developing narcolepsy following taking swine flu vaccine’

Katie Clack

Katie Clack

A “shy and anxious” woman who developed narcolepsy after been given a vaccine for swine flu fell from a multi-story car park in Peterborough a day after seeing a psychologist, a court heard.

Katie Clack, 23, suffered fatal injuries after falling from a Queensgate shopping centre car park in Peterborough, on September 23, 2014.

The nursery nurse died at the scene, South Lincolnshire coroners’ court heard at inquest which opened today (August 3).

In the preceding 18 months she had suffered from psychosis and clinical depression which was exacerbated after she developed narcolepsy.

She contracted the condition - which makes sufferers fall asleep or sleepy - after she received the Pandemrix jab aged 18 as part of a national vaccination scheme during the 2009-10 swine flu pandemic.

When she was diagnosed a year later she was sleeping up to 19 hours a day and had fallen into chronic depression with “no quality of life” by the time she died.

She left her family a note urging them to pursue her legal case against GlaxoSmithKline, the firm which manufactured the swine flu drug.

The depression led her to gain around eight stones in weight, caused her to have problems at work and stop washing herself.

The psychosis led her to hear voices, including a woman called Daisy who, the inquest heard, told her to kill herself.

Dr Gemma Hendry is a clinical psychologist who saw Miss Clack at 11am the day before she died.

She said: “There was no suspicions raised with me. She had plans for later in that week. At no point did she express suicidal intentions or did she become stressed in the last session.

“When she was signing out at reception she waved to me.”

In a previous session on August 22 Miss Clack admitted having suicidal thoughts.

Dr Hendry said: “She admitted having the thoughts but said she did not have a concrete plan on carrying it out.

“She said her family and nieces are one of the factors why she hadn’t taken action on it.”

Miss Clack had previously visited the car park on two occasions but was persuaded to leave after texting her sister, the court heard.

She also took an overdose at her flat in Peterborough on July 8, 2014.

Sarah Clarke, a community psychiatric nurse, supported Miss Clack from May 2013 until her death.

She said: “Katie called on July 8 to tell me she had taken an overdose. She was assessed by the crisis team. They felt that following the assessment that Katie did not warrant an admission to hospital or that she needed extra support. “So they transferred her back (to the community team.)”

She added: “The next day I went to see her. She said that she felt really silly about taking the overdose and she gave me some medication that she had that she didn’t want in the house.”

The court heard that Miss Clack had been sectioned in April, 2013 after developing paranoid psychotic delusions.

She was diagnosed with schizophrenia during her four week admission at the hospital. Her condition improved and she was released on April 30 to return to her parents’ house.

Within days she deteriorated and voluntarily returned to the hospital for treatment.

She was discharged on June 3 and then supported by Ms Clarke from the Community Crisis Team.

She later returned to work at a nursery where she often had disagreements with staff causing her mood to fluctuate significantly.

She was thinking about leaving her job and had time off sick before she died, the inquest heard.

On the day she died witness Gemma Wilson was standing outside the Peterborough city centre shopping centre when Miss Clack fell at just before 2pm.

In a statement read out to the court she said: “All of a sudden there was a moving figure out of the corner of my eye. I realised then a person had fallen from the car park.”

Paramedics Craig Gardner and Patricia Edgely were called to the scene at 1.44pm.

The pair started CPR but stopped at 2.04pm when it was clear she was dead.

The shopping centre’s CCTV was later reviewed during the investigation into her death.

Senior coroner Paul Cooper read out a statement to the court outlining Katie’s last movements.

Miss Clack’s narcolepsy began within weeks of receiving the vaccine when she started feeling overwhelming daytime sleepiness, a defining symptom of narcolepsy.

Miss Clack then developed cataplexy attacks, the total loss of muscle control during sudden bursts of emotion, which caused her to collapse without warning.

An autopsy was carried out on her body at Peterborough City Hospital on October 1, 2014.

It concluded that she died from head injuries in line with falling from a large height.

Miss Clack’s family believes that living with a chronic, neurological condition and her resultant medication led to the breakdown of her mental health. Katie’s family is represented by Peter Todd and Freya Colvin of law firm Hodge Jones & Allen. They said in a statement before the start of the inquest: “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.”