Bungay: Brian Aley paid compensation after doctor admits wrongly treating his wife Florence just weeks before her death

A SUFFOLK widower has been paid a five-figure sum in compensation after a doctor admitted wrongly treating his late wife.

Florence Aley, from Bungay, died days after being admitted to James Paget Hospital with a brain haemorrhage on December 20, 2008.

A month earlier the 71-year-old had complained of a sudden headache and visited Dr Helen McCall at Bungay Medical Practice, who diagnosed a muscle spasm.

Mrs Aley’s pain later spread down her back and legs and when she returned to the same surgery on November 26 she was prescribed anti-inflammatories by Dr Andrew Emerson, who said she had suffered inflammation of the membrane around the brain.

On December 17 she was taken to James Paget after falling ill while shopping. She was diagnosed with a brain haemorrhage and died three days later.

Her widower, Brian Aley, was awarded the compensation - understood to be nearer �10,000 than �99,000 - following an out-of-court settlement with unions representing the two doctors, the Medical Protection Society and the Medical Defence Union.

Dr Emerson, who is still based at Bungay Medical Practice, said in a letter of apology to Mr Aley: “I accept that I had an opportunity to suspect a bleed as the cause on 26 November 2008, and that I could have arranged hospital admission for intervention to prevent the further bleed on 17 December 2008, and I admit liability for this. I hope you will accept my sincere apologies.”

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Dr McCall, who has now left the practice, also provided a letter of apology to Mr Aley for her failure to refer his wife to hospital for further tests.

In a statement, Mr Aley said: “In the early days of this litigation, I thought there could have been a genuine mistake by both Drs McCall and Emerson.

“But on receiving the first expert witness report from a consultant at Exeter Hospital, I was devastated to read that a first year medical student would have suspected a possible brain haemorrhage.”

Mr Aley’s lawyer, Sharon Allison, of Ashton KCJ, said: “The proper course would have been to arrange a scan of her head to determine whether there was a cause for concern. That might have saved her life.

“Unfortunately, by the time she was eventually taken into hospital a month later the situation had developed into a major haemorrhage, and it was too late to save her.”

A spokeswoman for Bungay Medical Practice said: “We would like to reiterate how sorry we are about the death of Mrs Aley and to pass on our sincere condolences to Mr Aley. We cannot comment further due to our duty of patient confidentiality.”

The General Medical Council would not comment on whether either doctor was being investigated. A spokeswoman said both were still registered to practice.

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