Our clients, Ms X and Mr Y, have recovered compensation following the tragic death of their 13 month old son, F, less than 19 hours after he had been discharged from the Defendant Trust’s Hospital. He was readmitted after his condition worsened and it became apparent he was suffering from septic shock. F had been born with dextrocardia and had total situs inversus (congenital mispositioning of the heart and other organs). Various allegations were made by the Claimants including failure to admit F to hospital when he was brought into the Emergency Department. On causation it was stated that, with admission to hospital and timely treatment, F would have survived. Both parents suffered from psychiatric injury following F’s death and Mr Y, a successful plasterer, has been unable to concentrate on his work or continue his relationship with Ms X.
Breach of duty was totally denied in the Defence. However, the Defendant made an offer to settle the claim brought on behalf of F’s estate two months later while continuing to defend the Claimants’ secondary victim claims for psychiatric injury as a result of witnessing the tragic and shocking events surrounding their son’s death. As Ms X and Mr Y were secondary victims, by law, in order to be successful in a case they needed to prove that their psychiatric illness was caused by having witnessed injury, or threat of injury, to a loved one due to the “shock” of what they witnessed. Both parents had been present when F was transferred to a specialist hospital and, also, when he passed away. The Defendant then sought to strike out the Claimants’ secondary victim claims but subsequently the hearing relating to the application was vacated by agreement between the parties.
The Defendant then sought a preliminary issue of liability as to whether the Claimants fulfilled the legal requirements to bring claims as secondary victims. Although a trial date was obtained for a preliminary issue hearing in July 2021, the Defendant insisted on a stay in the proceedings, pending the Court of Appeal decision in the cases of Paul v Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust  EWHC 1415 (QB), Purchase v Ahmed  and Polmear v Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust  EWHC 196 (QB), in the hope that the judgement in those cases would be favourable to their client. The trial was subsequently deferred to November 2021. Ms X’s secondary victim claim settled, in January 2021, but Mr Y’s secondary victim claim did not settle until after a Round Table Settlement Meeting in September 2021.
Letters of apology for medical negligence were sent to the Claimants for the missed opportunity to treat F in December 2015.
Although I am very pleased that this tragic case has settled, it has taken a long time to get to this stage and Mr Y has been unable to support his family in the way he did before. I hope that he will be able to seek the help that he needs to start enjoying life again. Obviously no amount of money can compensate for the loss of my clients’ son but I am pleased that my clients have finally received an apology.Dr Mala Sidebottom
Nigel Spencer-Ley of Farrar’s Building was instructed.