Patients paid tribute at the funeral of a talented teacher who wrote a guide to eating disorders while battling with her own severe condition, an inquest heard.

Rebecca Hursey was tormented for years by “constant intrusive thoughts” about food, fluids and vitamins and self-harmed after eating, Westminster Coroner’s Court was told.

The 39-year-old was diagnosed with an atypical eating disorder, suffered a phobia of nutrients and believed she was “feeding evil inside" her, the inquest heard.

She died on May 4, 2018, after taking an Aspirin overdose for the third time in just over a year, and suffering a cardiac arrest at St George’s Hospital.

Ms Hursey was said to have supported fellow patients at the Avalon Ward of the nearby Springfield Hospital where she was treated for her severe eating disorder for five years.

Her mother, Ruth Hursey, said: “We did find notes with kind words from other patients on the ward which had been given to her during her time there.

“We found this very touching and they were put on display at her funeral.

“Rebecca’s death has had a profound impact on all her family and friends.”

Ms Hursey was described by friends as “one of the kindest and most thoughtful people” in witness statements read at her inquest today (Tues).

But the jury heard she felt “let down” and “could not see a way forward” and had suicidal thoughts.

Ms Margaret Privett, who met Ms Hursey when she herself was a patient at the Avalon Ward, gave a witness statement read at Westminster Coroner’s Court today.

She said: “From the moment I had met Rebecca, she had told me she wanted to die.

"She would say that one to two times per week. She wanted to be given permission to go home – palliative care. I know Rebecca has attempted suicide on a couple of occasions.”

Ms Privett added that Ms Hursey “could not see a way forward because everyone at all hospitals was rejecting her.”

Paramedics from London Ambulance Service (LAS) were called to the Avalon Ward to reports of a woman having taken an overdose just before 6am on May 3, 2018.

The court heard Ms Hursey told paramedics she had alerted staff on the ward of her overdose at 5.15pm the day before.

But other reports showed staff were not alerted until the following morning when Ms Hursey vomited in her room.

She was admitted to St George’s Hospital at 7.15am, but she died just before 1am on May 4.

An LAS worker told the court: “When we arrived, she was in her room. She was lying on her bed. She was along in the room. She was conscious and breathing.

"We attended on the morning of the 3rd. She said she had taken the overdose at 5.15pm the evening before. She had said that staff were aware she had taken the overdose.”

A post mortem report by Dr Adam Coumbe found Ms Hursey had wounds on both arms, fluid on the lungs, acute problems with the kidneys and brain swelling.

He confirmed her cause of death as one of multiple organ failure and salicylate poisoning

Professor Atholl Johnston, who gave evidence following a clinical pharmacology report, said “that is a very high level” and was “a fatal level if not treated.”

He said: “If Ms Hursey had been a fit, well 39-year-old, I would not have expected her to die in hospital with this level of salicylate.

"We are dealing with a person who has been in hospital for five years who has had a very low level of haemoglobin, who I believe was frail.

"Unfortunately I do not think the doctors could do much for her. Everything that could be down was done and at the appropriate time.”

Her father Michael Hursey told the jury how he would visit his daughter regularly at the Avalon Ward, travelling from Swindon to London to take her out almost every weekend during the five years before her death.

The retired head teacher recalled the last time he saw his daughter during a visit to Wandsworth Cineworld in south London where he was “delighted to hear her laugh” at the film.

He added that Ms Hursey would not have had an opportunity to buy Aspirin during the outing as she was only left alone for a short moment when he used the toilet at a cafe.

He said: “We travelled together by taxi to Cineworld in Wandsworth.

"We went sitting in to watch the film and I remember Rebecca laughed at one of the scenes. I was delighted to hear her laugh and that moment has stayed with me. I left Rebecca for a few moments to go to the toilet.”

Mr Hursey said it was his opinion that it was not possible for his daughter to have bought Aspirin and to have “sat back down in exactly the same place in time” during the few moments she was left alone.

He added: “Apart from those few moments in the cafe, I did not leave Rebecca alone.

"No-one would have sold her such a huge quantity, she would have had to go to several shops.

"I was very concerned to find out she was not searched on the ward that day.”

The inquest continues.