Disabled girl to get millions in pay-out

AN EIGHT-YEAR-OLD girl left facing a lifetime of acute disability after contracting a devastating virus while still in her mother's womb has won the right to millions of pounds in compensation.

John Howard

AN EIGHT-YEAR-OLD girl left facing a lifetime of acute disability after contracting a devastating virus while still in her mother's womb has won the right to millions of pounds in compensation.

Lawyers for tragic Angela Frost blamed doctors at James Paget Hospital for failing to diagnose her condition before she suffered a “very serious collapse” when she was still less than a month old.

Angela, from Thorndon, near Eye, was left with catastrophic brain injuries, leading to quadriplegic cerebral palsy and acute learning difficulties.

The youngster is utterly dependent on her devoted parents, Desmond and Angela , and will need care and support for as long as she lives, London's High Court heard.

Yesterday her counsel David Westcott QC told the court that the James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust had, without making any admission of liability, agreed to pay Angela 80% of a full valuation of her damages claim.

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Although the amount of her payout has yet to be finally assessed, lawyers confirmed that she is now due several million pounds in compensation, even after a 20% deduction.

According to court documents she was born a few weeks prematurely in January 2000 but, to begin with, appeared to thrive and feed well.

However, a few days later, her mother noticed she was permanently sleepy and that she was beginning to lose weight.

When she fed her baby, Mrs Frost noticed jerky movements of one of her arms and that her eyes rolled and flickered and, on February 1, 2000, she took Angela to see her GP.

The GP was sufficiently concerned to arrange her immediate admission to the hospital, in Gorleston.

Once there, no clear diagnosis was made, but a doctor suggested that colic, or a thyroid problem, or electrolyte imbalance, might be the cause of her problems.

Angela was discharged home the same day. However, on February 12, 2000, Mr Westcott told the court, she suffered "a very serious collapse" at home. Angela was rushed to hospital, but that was too late to save her from the brain damage which will blight the rest of her life.

The QC said it was his case that there had been a "mis-diagnosis, or non-diagnosis" of Angela's condition at the hospital on February 1.

He told the court it was to emerge that the cause of her condition was a viral infection she had contracted before her birth. He argued that, had she been treated with anti-viral drugs on her first admission to hospital, Angela would have escaped permanent disability.

However, that was disputed by the NHS Trust.

Mr Justice Butterfield approved the compromise reached yesterday, which means that Angela will receive 80% of what she would have done had her lawyers managed to prove the NHS Trust fully liable for her injuries after a contested trial.

Mr Frost was in court to hear the settlement and the judge told him: “I'm sure this is a great relief to you but, of course, you go back to caring for a disabled child.

“I would like you to know that the court does recognise the long and difficult task now ahead of you.”

On legal advice the family were unable to comment yesterday on the court ruling at this stage.

Despite the challenges little Angela has faced in her young life she is all smiles and a source of joy to her parents.

Those touched by the little girl's plight have rallied around raising funds and Mrs Frost has said that just knowing there are people out there who care gave them a big lift.

Paying tribute to the care and commitment of Angela's parents, defence lawyers said the NHS Trust was pleased a compromise had been arrived at and hoped an early agreement would be reached on the final amount of her compensation payout.

Wendy Slaney, medical director with the James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The trust is pleased that agreement has been reached with regard to Angela's claim.

“Our solicitors will now work with the family's solicitors in order to reach early agreement on compensation due to Angela and her family.”

The judge approved an immediate payment of £75,000 to the family to cover the short-term costs of Angela's care, while lawyers continue their attempts to reach a final settlement.

Also expressing the hope that a final deal will be struck without the need for a trial, Mr Westcott said: “There's every reason to think that funds will be made available to ensure that Angela is properly looked after.”

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