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Man brain-damaged in childhood awarded £6.2m in NHS compensation

A man left disabled by a brain infection he contracted at Watford General Hospital as a baby has been awarded £6.2m in NHS compensation.

The man, in his 20s, contracted a life-threatening inflammation of the brain called encephalitis at the age of one whilst being treated at Watford General Hospital.

The family sued the trust in charge of his care, West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust (WHHT), and London’s High Court heard how there had been an eight-hour delay in giving him an anti-viral drug.

The man’s parents wanted the trust to cover the lifetime cost of his care, and Justice Baker awarded the family a lump sum of £6.2m plus index-linked payments of £74,000 a year to cover the costs of his care.

The trust had disputed whether earlier treatment of the drug would have made a difference but following the pay-out WHHT said it was pleased the claim had been resolved.

No liability was formally admitted, but the family’s barrister Anne Kavanagh said that the trust took a very “pragmatic and constructive approach” to the negotiations for which it deserves credit.

A spokesperson for the trust said: “We hope that the financial compensation will ensure that the claimant has the best possible quality of life in the future.”

The man’s barrister, Elizabeth-Anne Gumbel CQ, told the court that the man had been treated at Watford General Hospital in 1997.

Investigations found there had been an eight-hour delay in giving the anti-viral drug Acyclovir, and the family claimed that the man’s disabilities were related an MMR vaccine.

The man’s disabilities include severe epilepsy, learning difficulties and behavioural problems and the court heard that his family had cared for him for many years before contacting solicitors in 2012.

Justice Baker, awarding the compensation, said: “You have done the utmost that could possibly have been expected of you and I'm glad to see that you will now, at last, have some security in your position.

The parents commented: “All we have ever wanted is for our son to receive the care he needs because of his condition.”

This settlement means we “will be able to concentrate on the future and try and help him make the most of life.”

The trust has had to pay out large amounts of compensation before and in November a six-year-old boy who suffered “catastrophic” brain injuries at Watford General Hospital received a record-breaking £37m.

Image credit -  Steve Parsons/PA Archive/PA Images


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