The High Court in London today approved a £2.5m settlement reached on behalf of a Ramsgate man who has been left severely disabled by negligent treatment at the QEQM Hospital in Ramsgate.
Lee Cray, now aged 29, suffered a collapse at home on Thursday, 5th June 2003.
He was taken to the QEQM Hospital where he was admitted overnight.
The East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, which is responsible for the QEQM, admitted that Lee’s presenting symptoms warranted the commissioning of an urgent CT scan, on the morning of Friday, 6th June 2003, and that it was negligent for them not to have commissioned such a scan.
Had they done so, it would have shown that Lee had suffered a subarachnoid haemorrhage.
As it was, a head scan, revealing the haemorrhage, was not carried out until the following Monday, 9th June 2003, at which point Lee was transferred, as an emergency, to King’s Hospital in London.
By then, it was too late to coil the aneurysm causing the haemorrhage or to clip it by open surgery due to the onset of severe vasospasm. This, in turn, made it impossible to treat the vasospasm effectively.
Lee’s condition deteriorated to the point where surgery to clip the aneurysm had to be undertaken by 26th June which, mercifully, was successful.
By that point, however, Lee had suffered severe brain injury. He has been left with profound disabilities including hemiplegia. He is wheelchair bound, needs constant care and will do for the rest of his life.
Within the proceedings brought on his behalf, the Defendant Trust, whilst admitting the negligence, disputed that it made any difference.
Ultimately, a split trial to deal with the causation issue was compromised in January 2008 on terms whereby it was agreed that Lee should receive 55% of the full value of his claim.
Ongoing proceedings to assess quantum involved the instruction of no fewer than 10 separate experts.
With a final quantum hearing listed for November this year, the Trust and Lee’s lawyers reached a settlement agreement whereby the Trust is to pay Lee the sum of £2.5m in settlement of his claim. It is that agreement that the High Court approved today.
All the money will be placed in the Court of Protection and administered by a specialist Solicitor for Lee’s sole benefit.
Nick Fairweather, of Fairweathers solicitors, 16 Station Road West, Canterbury, who represented Lee, commented:-
“This is a tragic case in which fundamental errors occurred. Although causation was complicated, it was our case that a speedy transfer of Lee would have resulted in a much better outcome for him. No amount of money can ever compensate him for what he has lost but I am pleased that the high level of damages ultimately achieved in this case will be able to be used to purchase the accommodation, equipment and care that Lee will need for the rest of his life.
Everyone dealing with this case has been struck by the high level of devotion and support given to Lee by his parents, which both the Trust and the Judge dealing with the case today went out of their way to pay tribute to. I too admire their steadfast support for Lee and his and their courage in seeing this case through to a successful conclusion. I wish them all the very best for the future”.
Lee’s mother, Annette Higginson, commented:-
“We are relieved that this legal battle has now ended but remain angry at the serious mistakes that were made in Lee’s care. Whilst we are only lay people, as Lee’s family we knew that something was seriously wrong with him, over that weekend he was at the QEQM, and begged the hospital staff to carry out a scan. We offered to pay for this privately but were told that, if we wished to, we would have to take Lee to a private facility ourselves (no ambulance would be provided). Also, they could not guarantee there would be a bed for him if we took that course. They assured us that there as nothing wrong with him. When the scan was finally carried out on the Monday it confirmed our worst fears. By then it was too late. We will always be there for Lee. He has a great sense of humour and we remain extremely close as a family. Whilst this money will help hugely to improve Lee’s quality of life, it is very hard not to feel bitter at everything Lee has lost. We hope that lessons are learned from this case, in particular that “doctor does not always know best”. We should also like to thank the medical team at King’s for the skill and compassion they showed in treating Lee. The contrast with the QEQM could not have been starker. Finally we should like to thank our legal team for all their hard work and support over many years in bringing the case to a successful conclusion for Lee.”
This case was featured on Radio Kent on Saturday 24th October –