Admission of Hospital Negligence in Meningitis Compensation Claim

A family from Witham in Essex has heard an apology read to them in court with an admission of hospital negligence in a meningitis compensation claim made on behalf of their daughter.

Ellie Sutton (now nine years of age) was taken to Colchester Hospital by her mother when she was just eight months old with a temperature of 39.9 degrees. Ellie´s concerned mother – Sarah – was sent home by the hospital and told to return if her daughter´s temperature remained high, despite the hospital´s guidelines stating that any child attending with a temperature higher than 38 degrees should be monitored hourly.

Sarah returned to Colchester Hospital with her daughter later that day; and, after Ellie had been examined by an Emergency Department doctor, was admitted to the hospital with a recommendation that her high temperature be investigated without delay. However, Ellie´s condition was not investigated until eleven hours later; by which time she had suffered brain damage due to meningitis.

Ellie now requires permanent care and, after seeking legal advice, Sarah made a hospital negligence meningitis compensation claim on behalf of her daughter – claiming that had the hospital followed its own guidelines, Ellie would not have suffered permanent brain damage.

Following an investigation into Ellie´s care, Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust acknowledged that there had been a failure in their duty of care and that had the correct procedures been followed Ellie would have made a full recovery.

A negotiated settlement of Sarah´s hospital negligence meningitis compensation claim was agreed, and at the High Court in London the family heard a statement read to them by representatives of the Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust in which the hospital apologised for the errors that were made in Ellie´s care.

Judge Anthony Seys-Llewellyn approved the settlement – which consisted of a £2.4 million initial payment and tax-free index-linked payments of £119,000 every year – extending his sympathies to the family by commenting “In a way this is the most painful day for you, because you have been thinking about what was intended to be”.

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