Mum’s relief at £5m payout

Caren Paterson
Caren Paterson

A mother has spoken of her relief at getting a £5million settlement for her daughter who was left brain damaged after a long ambulance delay.

Eleanor Paterson, from Warkworth, was determined to see that Caren, 36, got the best care and support possible after she was left with a long-term brain injury and needing 24-hour care for the rest of her life.

An ambulance was called for Caren at 1.39pm after she collapsed and her lips turned blue, in October 2007.

But because her Islington flat’s address was inexplicably on a ‘high risk register,’ the ambulance waited round the corner for a police escort –arriving at 3.20pm.

However, Caren had a cardiac arrest five minutes before it got there.

The London Ambulance Service admitted 11 separate breaches of duty that contributed to Ms Paterson’s injuries including a delay in the ambulance attending the scene caused by a failure to comply with hospital trust policies, failure to communicate properly and effectively with the police and the caller and failure to react properly to the patient’s worsening condition.

Caren, who has a PhD in genetics and was working as a genetic scientist at King’s College, London, was left with complicated long-term care needs.

Serious injury specialists at solicitors Irwin Mitchell have been working with Caren and her family to secure the settlement, consisting of a £1.4million lump sum and annual payments for the rest of her life, approved in the High Court in London on Tuesday.

Speaking after the decision Eleanor said: “My daughter was a successful and ambitious scientist but it is so distressing that all of her ambitions have been taken away from her because of her brain injury.

“I was determined to ensure Caren had access to the best possible care and support for the rest of her life and it is such a huge relief that the settlement has been approved today.

“Clearly we would rather not be in this situation at all and nothing will ever return our daughter to how she was before. But it is a weight off our minds to know that she will now be able to continue to receive the care, treatment and specialist attention she needs.

“The thought of an ambulance crew sitting waiting round the corner while my daughter lay in her flat as her condition went from serious to life-threatening, causing irreparable damage to her brain, is still shocking and I hope no one ever has to go through what we have.”

John Davis, a specialist serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, who is representing Caren and her family, said: “The failures by the ambulance service in this case were totally unacceptable and it was heart-breaking for her family to learn that an emergency response team was just around the corner but unable to give her the crucial treatment she needed.

“The emergency crews eventually arrived 102 minutes after the first 999 call – but even then there was nobody senior enough on hand to administer the treatment that Ms Paterson needed.

“It is imperative that people in Caren’s condition are treated as quickly as possible – even seconds can make a huge difference, let alone well over an hour.

“We have been working with the London Ambulance Service’s legal team to secure a vital settlement which will help to provide the lifetime of care and support she now needs.”

Mr Davis added: “She is currently receiving specialist rehabilitation treatment and in the long term it is hoped that Caren can live in her own bungalow with a team of well-trained brain injury carers so that she can establish a permanent routine which suits her severe disability.”

At the time it was unknown why the address was on the high risk register and the Police made a decision to review the way emergency calls to homes on the register were handled.

Caren remains in care at North Moor in North Yorkshire.