The NHS generally does a good job in difficult circumstances, but medical blunders do occur and it is only right that those who suffer are compensated. In one case, a woman who was stricken by cervical cancer after hospital staff missed signs of the disease four times was awarded more than £580,000 in compensation.
The woman, in her 20s, had suffered painful and troubling symptoms, but two smear tests and two biopsies, carried out over a five-year period, failed to lead to a correct diagnosis. By the time the aggressive cancer was discovered, her tumour was so large that she needed invasive surgery and intense radiotherapy.
The treatment has rendered her infertile, wrecking her hopes of having a large family, and caused serious physical injuries, including damage to her bladder and bowel which will blight the rest of her life. The NHS trust that ran the hospital admitted negligence and, following a High Court hearing, was ordered to pay her £580,618 in damages.
Twelve of the woman's eggs were harvested and frozen before she underwent surgery and £74,000 of the award is to cover the expenses of two surrogate pregnancies. A further £160,000 is to compensate her for her pain, suffering and loss of amenity. She was also given the right to return to court for additional damages if she develops radiation enteritis, a condition that would compromise her digestive system so that she would have to be fed through a tube.