A woman who suffers from brain damage because an ambulance took almost two hours to reach her after she collapsed, has received medical negligence compensation.
Caren Paterson from Archway in London, was in her bedroom at her flat nearly seven years ago when she fell unconscious. Her boyfriend rang for an ambulance straight away, telling the operator that her lips had gone blue and that her breathing patterns were abnormal; the Islington Gazette reports.
However, a mistake at London Ambulance Service NHS Trust led to Ms Paterson's address being classed as a high risk, which meant a police escort was required before ambulance crews went to the scene.
As a result, there was a considerable delay in paramedics getting to Ms Paterson's flat, even though they were only 100 metres away. By the time emergency services did arrive, Ms Paterson had suffered a cardiac arrest.
Although she survived, the delay in treatment has led to a number of long-term health consequences for the patient, including confusion and disorientation, as well as chronic amnesia.
Ms Paterson now requires care around the clock and is unable to go back to work, after having a position as a genetic scientist at King's College, London.
Her family subsequently took legal action against London Ambulance Service NHS Trust and have now been paid a medical negligence compensation package of approximately £5 million. This includes a £1.4 million lump sum, with further payments being made every year for the rest of Ms Paterson's life.
London Ambulance Service
London Ambulance Service NHS Trust has issued an apology to Ms Paterson's family and insisted that lessons have been learned from this case.
Katy Millard, deputy director of operations at London Ambulance Service, said major changes have been made to its high-risk register since 2007. "Of the three million households in London, there are now only around 600 addresses on the register," she commented.
"Now, our ambulance crews assess each situation themselves when they get to the scene and will only ever delay treatment if they believe they are in danger."
Compensation 'A Weight Off Our Minds'
Ms Paterson's family have welcomed the resolution of the case, with her mother Eleanor saying it's a relief to know she will have access to the "best possible care and support for the rest of her life".
"It is a weight off our minds to know that she will now be able to continue to receive the care, treatment and specialist attention that she needs," she stated.
Mrs Paterson also said that her daughter had been an ambitious and successful scientist before she suffered her brain injury.
As a result, she finds it "distressing" that all of Caren's "aspirations and ambitions" have been taken away.
Mrs Paterson added that it is particularly "shocking" how an ambulance crew had been sitting around the corner from her daughter's flat while her condition deteriorated to the point where it became life-threatening and she suffered irreparable brain damage.
"I hope no one ever has to go through what we have," Mrs Paterson said.