A BASINGSTOKE mother, who has been left reliant on a wheelchair after doctors delayed sending her for tests to diagnose a brain tumour, is set to receive a huge payout following a High Court hearing.
Joyce Cook has been awarded an interim payment of £100,000 after a judge approved an admission of liability from the NHS Trust, paving the way for a care package to be agreed.
Mrs Cook, who now requires care and assistance with everyday living, suffers from memory loss, has limited vision and is unable to work again, went to Basingstoke hospital's emergency department on July 3, 2009 after experiencing dizziness, an ear infection, nausea and drooping of the mouth.
However, she was sent home the same day without undergoing any scans to find out the cause of her symptoms.
Five days later, the mother-of-two collapsed at her home in Basingstoke and was admitted to hospital, where a CT scan revealed a left-sided brain tumour which had put pressure on her brain through a build-up of fluid, causing the initial symptoms.
The 48-year-old former office administrator was transferred to the Wessex Neurological Centre at Southampton where she underwent successful treatment to shrink the tumour.
Following three weeks of rehabilitation she was discharged home.
Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust originally refused to agree liability, but at the hearing it was heard that staff should have referred Mrs Cook for an urgent CT or MRI scan, including brain imaging, on July 3 because her symptoms were consistent with a brain abnormality.
Evidence found this would have highlighted the tumour and ensured treatment was provided before Mrs Cook collapsed at home and suffered a brain stem stroke.
The stroke would have been avoided through earlier diagnosis of the brain tumour.
A package will now be secured for Mrs Cook, to ensure she has a lifetime of care and rehabilitation.
The trust admitted 90 per cent liability for the failures in Mrs Cook’s care just weeks before the case was due to go to trial, and the agreement was approved by Mr Justice King at the London High Court today.
Mrs Cook’s husband, Michael, a 47-year-old IT architect, said: “The last five years have been incredibly difficult as we have tried to adapt and come to terms with Joyce’s injury.
“However, today’s hearing means we can now look to the future and gives us peace of mind that Joyce will have access to all the care and rehabilitation she needs for the rest of her life.
“Nothing can turn back the clock but we just hope improvements have been made by the trust to prevent any other family from going through a similar ordeal.”
Juanita Cumberland, a medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell’s London office, which represented the couple, said: “This is a truly tragic case. Mrs Cook’s life has been completely turned upside down.
“She now needs help with all aspects of her daily care, such as washing and dressing, and is reliant on a wheelchair to get around outside the house.
“Today’s hearing means we can now work with the trust to agree a fair settlement for Mrs Cook that will provide appropriate single storey accommodation, help from specialist carers and ongoing rehabilitation such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy to ensure she has the best quality of life possible with as much independence as possible.”
Mary Edwards, chief executive of the Trust, said: "Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is sorry for the failings in Mrs Cook’s care. Liability has been agreed between the parties and approved by the court. The parties will now work together to agree a financial settlement."