AN ANTI-PSYCHOTIC drug could have been one of the causes behind the death of a woman at a private psychiatric hospital, an inquest has heard.

Toxicologist Professor Robert Flanagan said it was “more likely than not” that the drug Clozapine may have been an underlying cause of death for Katharine Stamp, 30, in March 2015 and the guidance for medics and the British National Formulary (BNF) needs to be updated.

The BNF is a pharmaceutical reference book which contains wide-ranging information and advice on prescribing and pharmacology, along with specific facts and details about many medicines available on the UK National Health Service.

The inquest at the coroner’s court in Crawley heard that evidence about the impact of Clozapine, which has been available in Britain for about 30 years, is still being gathered.

A post mortem found the cause of death as aspiration pneumonia and it was reported that the levels of the drug in her blood were not thought to have been in excess, the court heard.

Prof Flanagan, who is an expert in Clozapine, told the court that not having a measurement for the levels of Clozapine in her blood was “incredibly poor practice”.

He told the hearing: “Clozapine is a complicated drug.

“It is only in the last six or seven years we have become aware of the risks of pneumonia and the possible consequences caused.

“It is not something that has got to the BNF yet.

“The BNF does tend to lag behind.”

Ms Stamp, who had suffered from health problems since she was a teenager, was found dead at The Dene Hospitalin Hassocks on March 26, 2015.

She was sectioned and admitted in September 2012.

At the time of her death The Dene was run by Partnerships in Care Ltd, but following a corporate merger in 2016 management was assumed by the Priory Group.

The Dene changed its name to Priory Hospital Burgess Hill in 2018, according to lawyers for Ms Stamp’s family.

Prof Flanagan said Ms Stamp, who was obese and a smoker, had a history of periodic chest infections and coughs.

The court heard he was content with the dosages of the drug that Ms Stamp received.

Of the potential of Clozapine as an “underlying” cause of death, Prof Flanagan said it is “easy” for people like himself to look at the records after the event.

He added: “When it is actually happening in real time, it is much more difficult for a team on the ground to understand it all.”

Ellie Stamp, 31, paid tribute to her deceased sister as her “comrade” and as “the first person I wanted to emulate”.

She said: “I’m speaking to remind you all that Kate was a person with hopes and dreams and love. It hurts me that I have to speak about her in the past tense.”

Kate was one of three women to die at The Dene in less than a year.

The inquest into her death will be the first of the three, each of which will now be held before the Assistant Coroner for East and West Sussex James Healy-Pratt.

The hearing of the three inquests have been substantially delayed by a lengthy police investigation into the three deaths.