Organ scandal victory 'tainted'

A COUPLE whose dead daughter's brain was removed without their consent have voiced their anger after it emerged they may be subjected to psychiatric assessments before any compensation is handed out.

A COUPLE whose dead daughter's brain was removed without their consent have voiced their anger after it emerged they may be subjected to psychiatric assessments before any compensation is handed out.

Andrew and Kim Wallace, from Elmswell, near Bury St Edmunds, were among 2,000 bereaved families who won a High Court ruling yesterday after claiming body parts of their loved ones were removed by the NHS without their consent.

But although Mr Justice Gage ruled the practice was negligent, families were told many would have to undergo psychiatric tests to prove how much they have suffered in the past few years.

Mr Wallace, whose 14-month-old daughter Kayleigh had her brain removed by staff at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, admitted he had mixed feelings over yesterday's ruling, which paves the way for his family to receive some form of compensation five years after they lost their loved one.

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The father, who hoped his family's nightmare would end yesterday, said: “I am pleased with the ruling as far as the doctors have been told off for doing what they did.”

But he added: “When we heard the news I was absolutely distraught as I thought everything would be sorted yesterday.

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“We are now going to have wait months and months for compensation and go through psychiatric assessments costing thousands of pounds and it is not fair.

“It has never been about the money, we have just all been through enough and we just want to get on with our lives.”

Mr and Mrs Wallace, who have two sons, three-year-old Kyle and five-month old Ashley, said Addenbrooke's Hospital removed the brain of their young daughter after she lost her fight against meningitis five years ago.

They say the Cambridge hospital admitted what had happened a year after her death and said they also took slides of more than 30 of Kayleigh's organs without their permission.

But while some families welcomed the verdict, the judge ruled a third of the families were not entitled to compensation because their loved one's body parts were removed in a coroner's court post-mortem examination and not in a hospital.

Mr Wallace said: “I think it is absolutely disgusting and my heart goes out to those families affected.

“They have been through exactly what we have been through - they have lost their loved ones - but they have now been told they will get nothing.”

A spokeswoman for Addenbrooke's Hospital said: “Throughout the media coverage on the issue of organ retention Addenbrooke's has always apologised unreservedly to the families concerned for the distress caused, and we take this opportunity to do so again.”

The High Court action centred on three lead cases involving the removal and retention of organs from babies Rosina Harris, whose parents Karen and David are from the Dorchester area, Daniel Carpenter, whose parents Alan and Susan live in Norfolk, and Laura Shorter, whose mother Denise lives in the Oxford area.

Though claims from the Harris and Carpenter families were dismissed, the judge awarded £2,750 to Mrs Shorter, which meant claims of hundreds of other parents could now be dealt with.

After the ruling, one of the lead solicitors for the claimants, Mervyn Fudge said: “The ruling means that persons who are claiming in relation to hospital post-mortems will be entitled to compensation.

“In the hospital post-mortem cases the judge has found the claimant was owed a duty of care and that was breached. The doctors were guilty of negligence and provided that we can show psychiatric damage then they are entitled to damages.

“Those persons who are subject to Coroner's Courts post-mortems will not be given compensation.”

In a statement, the NHS Litigation Authority said the finding of the judge was both “important and complex”.

The statement said: “This case arose because society decided that it wished its doctors to be more candid about what was involved in a post-mortem, as a result of which normal hospital practice up to about 1999 became outmoded.

“This did not mean that the doctors of the preceding 30 years had been doing anything other than acting bona fide in the interests of their patients and the relatives, as the judge has found.

“What the court has found, however, is that the practice that was standard until 1999 is unacceptable in 2004.”

Editorial comment - Page 30

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