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Twenty-Year Fight for Compensation Concludes

Twenty-Year Fight for Compensation Concludes

University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust has settled a 20-year pay-out fight and agreed to pay a seven-figure settlement compensating Nathalie Sugden, who was left severely brain damaged following a heart operation shortly after her birth in 1994. A trial was scheduled to take place last week into the case but days before its start date the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust admitted fault after nearly two decades of denying any negligence.

Surgeon decided against restarting heart

Nathalie, now aged 19, was born in July 1994 with a congenital heart defect. She underwent surgery a month later to repair a narrowing of her aorta, a condition which restricts blood flow to the body. During the operation, Nathalie suffered a cardiac arrest. The surgeon decided against performing a cardiac massage to restart her heart, leaving Nathalie without blood flow to her brain for nearly 15 minutes. This has left her with a number of major health problems, including epilepsy, partial paralysis, limited mobility, learning and hearing difficulties, and a severely reduced IQ and cognitive functions.

Nathalie's parents commented:

"We would like to thank all the professionals involved for their contribution to this successful outcome. Our focus remains on the well-being of our daughter in the coming years, and making sure the legal and practical support is in place to allow her to live life as independently as possible."

Laura Thompson, a solicitor in IBB's Personal Injury team comments:

“The 2001 Kennedy Inquiry into child deaths and injuries at the Bristol Royal Infirmary criticised the surgeon operating on Ms Sugden in 1994 heavily and he was subsequently struck off the medical register by the GMC (General Medical Council). It is a shame that this did not lead to an admission of liability in this case by the NHS Litigation Authority a decade ago as Ms Sugden and her family may have been spared so many more years of frustration and anxiety. They may have otherwise moved on with their lives confident in having the funding behind them to ensure all necessary support was in place for Ms Sugden’s future.”

New inquiry to launch

The settlement comes as the same trust faces a second inquiry into its paediatric cardiac services by Sir Ian Kennedy, who investigated the scandal over the care given to Nathalie and hundreds of other sick children in Bristol during the 1990s. This inquiry, which is about to open, will examine the deaths and life changing complications suffered by dozens more children treated in Bristol, this time at the city’s Royal Hospital for Children, in recent years.

IBB Solicitors has built a reputation for quality of service in pursuing compensation in cases involving accident, illness or death, including clinical and medical negligence. If you would like advice on personal injury issues, you can contact a member of IBB's Personal Injury team, call us on 08456 381 381 or email pi@ibblaw.co.uk.