Home / Insights / Blog / NHS Negligence: Nine-year-old girl receives £5.5m after hospital meningitis failings

NHS Negligence: Nine-year-old girl receives £5.5m after hospital meningitis failings

NHS Negligence: Nine-year-old girl receives £5.5m after hospital meningitis failings

Colchester Hospital has awarded a nine-year-old girl a £5.5m compensation package after delays in treating her meningitis when she was a baby left her with brain damage and suffering from epilepsy, requiring lifetime care. Aged eight months, Ellie Sutton was discharged by hospital staff despite her having a recorded temperature of 39.9 degrees.

Her family’s lawyer’s argued that, in doing so, the hospital failed to follow its own guidelines, which recommend that any child with a temperature greater than 38 degrees be admitted and monitored hourly. Ellie’s mother Sarah took her back to the hospital later that evening; but even though a doctor recommended her condition be examined further, a medical review was not conducted until the ward rounds 11 hours later.

“Nothing can turn the clock back”

Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust admitted that without the delays in treatment, Ellie would have made a full recovery. Ellie’s parents were at the High Court in London to hear the Trust apologise and state that nothing can "turn the clock back but these payments will give peace of mind and secure Ellie's future”. A £2.4m lump sum, along with lifelong annual payments of up to £119,000, will cover her 24-hour care, along with transport costs, therapies and specialist equipment.

Judge Anthony Seys-Llewellyn QC approved the settlement without question, telling the Suttons of his hope that, “in so far as money can make a difference, it will make Ellie secure".

One of a number of recent medical negligence cases

Eleven-year-old Chantelle Pringle has also won the right to a compensation package, after being prescribed Calpol by a nurse on an out-of-hours medical service when she was suffering from meningitis when aged two. Her condition worsened and, despite being later admitted to Sunderland Royal Hospital, gangrene linked to meningococcal septicaemia meant that both her feet had to be amputated. The amount of Chantelle’s compensation will be calculated at a further court hearing; her claim has been valued at around £1m.

Julia Coakley, an artist from Hampshire, was left blind, partially deaf and stricken by balance problems and facial palsy after a GP failed to diagnose meningitis; Judge Stephen Oliver-Jones QC ruled that Dr Henrietta Rosie’s failure to properly examine Mrs Coakley’s rashes was “in breach of the duty of care she owed to Mrs Coakley as her patient”.

“With meningitis, every second really does count”

Following Ellie’s hearing, Mrs Sutton said "We were devastated when we found out that Ellie had suffered brain damage and even more heart-broken for her when we found out her condition could have been avoided had simple errors not been made.

"I strongly urge everyone to trust their instincts when it comes to their loved ones. We put our trust in the professionals and they do fail – leaving disastrous consequences. Nobody will know your children like you do and with meningitis, every second really does count”.

You are entitled to expect a certain standard of treatment from those providing medical assistance to you. If this treatment falls below standard you may be entitled to recover the cost of the private medical treatment needed to correct the failings on the part of those originally treating you. Our goal is to obtain justice for victims of the negligence by others, by securing compensation that reflects their pain and suffering, as well as related financial losses including loss of earnings, treatment costs and specialist care costs.

If you want to enquire about making a clinical / NHS negligence claim, please contact a member of our team on 01895 207835 or 01895 207295. Alternatively, you can send an email with your name and contact information and brief details as to the nature of the accident/clinical negligence and the injuries sustained to pi@ibblaw.co.uk and one of our team will be able to help you.