A 12-year-old boy has been paid medical negligence compensation after a serious eye condition was missed by NHS doctors and medical staff for five years.
Tracy & Charlie Wells, the parents of Billy, became concerned when their son was apparently unable to see his milk bottle even when it was right next to him and he started sitting just an inch away from the television set; the Daily Mail reports.
A further indication that something was wrong came nine years ago after a family holiday to Disneyland, as they realised Billy was not looking into the camera on any of the 200-plus photographs they took.
Mr & Mrs Wells' concerns were initially dismissed by health workers, so they took him to an optician, who concluded that he had an eye condition known as hypermetropica amblyopia.
Billy has since been equipped with a pair of special glasses that have enhanced his vision significantly. However, his parents remained unhappy with the fact the medical condition, which leads to the eyes deteriorating over time, was missed by Buckinghamshire Hospitals NHS Trust over a five-year period.
They therefore opted to take legal action against Buckinghamshire Hospitals NHS and have now been awarded medical negligence compensation, the amount of which has not yet been disclosed. Nevertheless, it is likely to be a significant amount, since it will be used to cover costs ranging from extra tuition for Billy to optical and occupational therapy.
Billy has since spoken out in praise of his new glasses, particularly as he is now able to play computer games on his Xbox. "The glasses have changed my life completely," he commented. I didn't understand what seeing was - I just thought it was how it was meant to be. Now I love playing Skyrim and I can do that from the sofa with my brothers."
Health Worker 'Rushed Off Her Feet'
Billy's father Charlie believes one reason his son's eye condition was missed for so long was that the health worker who came to see him had a massive workload.
He said she was "rushed off her feet" and trying to "do the job of 55 people", which meant she did not have time to look at Billy properly and therefore missed his eye problems. "We were always told there was nothing wrong or we were being silly," Mr Wells commented.
He noted that when he met her five years later, the report she had written about him was still at the bottom of her briefcase. "She had just been so rushed it got forgotten," he said.
Mr Wells revealed that after the "alarm bells" had started ringing regarding their son's vision, they were "devastated" to learn from the optician that he could actually "barely see anything at all".
However, he stated that Billy has made good progress since receiving the glasses that have improved his visual acuity. "Despite his delay at the start, he is now top of his class, he loves reading and doing many things normal boys do," he remarked.
Mr Wells added that despite the successful resolution to his problems, he still feels sad that the first few years of Billy's life were lost "for no reason".
By Francesca Witney