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Nurse urges tighter curbs on online diet pills after daughter's death

A nurse whose daughter died after taking online diet pills containing a toxic chemical is calling for tighter controls on its supply.
Bethany Shipsey

A nurse whose daughter died after taking online diet pills containing a toxic chemical is calling for tighter controls on its supply

Bethany Shipsey was 21 when she took the tablets containing the industrial substance 2,4-Dinitrophenol (DNP) in February this year.

Her parents, Carole and Doug Shipsey, have spoken of their shock at how easily available the illegal pills were online.

The couple are now urging parents of other children concerned about their weight to 'take it seriously' and seek the right support and advice.

Cardiac arrest

Mrs Shipsey said her daughter died in hospital about five hours after taking the pills at their home in Worcester.

She said: 'Bethany had taken some pills and contacted someone on Facebook, who alerted the emergency services.

'She went into

A nurse whose daughter died after taking online diet pills containing a toxic chemical is calling for tighter controls on its supply

Bethany Shipsey
Bethany Shipsey died five hours after taking diet pills containing 2,4-Dinitrophenol

Bethany Shipsey was 21 when she took the tablets containing the industrial substance 2,4-Dinitrophenol (DNP) in February this year.

Her parents, Carole and Doug Shipsey, have spoken of their shock at how easily available the illegal pills were online.

The couple are now urging parents of other children concerned about their weight to 'take it seriously' and seek the right support and advice.

Cardiac arrest

Mrs Shipsey said her daughter died in hospital about five hours after taking the pills at their home in Worcester.

She said: 'Bethany had taken some pills and contacted someone on Facebook, who alerted the emergency services.

'She went into hospital within an hour of taking the pills.

'She was in the emergency department, and it was about three-and-a-half to four hours before she had a cardiac arrest.

'They attempted to resuscitate her but it wasn't successful and she died that night.'

Eating disorder

Miss Shipsey – also known as Beth – was having ongoing treatment for mental health issues, linked to trauma from when she was raped by a previous partner.

She developed an eating disorder and had voiced concerns about her weight to her parents and mental health professionals.

Mrs Shipsey said she and her husband had been 'horrified' to discover, after their daughter's death, how people had encouraged her on social media to try the pills to lose weight.

Her daughter was also taking daily laxatives and metabolic boosters.

Negative body image

Mrs Shipsey said: 'It all just reinforced Bethany's negativity around her own body image and was a tool to encourage her to continue on that path of self-destruction.'

Mr Shipsey said that although the pills were illegal, 'unscrupulous' dealers were still supplying them.

He has called for tighter controls, including licensing of the DNP chemical itself, to make it tougher to get hold of.

'If there were some licensing controls on the substance itself, at least it would restrict the ability of these unscrupulous people to obtain this material, put it into capsules and sell them on the internet,' he said.

'If the chemical were licensed you'd have to apply for a licence to produce it, sell it, handle it, and for someone to buy and use it.'

Lack of awareness

Ms Shipsey, a nurse for 39 years, also claimed there appeared to be little awareness among staff at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital's emergency department on the effects of DNP, which has no antidote.

The trust which manages the hospital has internally reviewed Miss Shipsey's case, and shared the results with her family, but said it cannot comment further ahead of an inquest in January 2018.

Mrs Shipsey said: 'It's easy, when associated with young people, to dismiss any concerns the young person may have about their weight.

'Too many people have a perception that eating disorders are only people who are underweight or overweight; it's not about body mass index, it's about their relationship with food.

'The answer is listening and getting support with a recognised group, like www.b-eat.co.uk.'

Full internal review

A Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust spokesperson said: 'We have undertaken a full internal review of this case.

'The results of this have been shared with the family and we have since met with them to answer their questions.

'The trust cannot comment any further until after the coroner's inquest.'


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