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£5.5m payout for meningitis girl
A nine-year-old girl who will need lifetime care because of delays in treating her meningitis has been awarded a £5.5 million compensation package.
Ellie Sutton was just eight months old when she was referred to the paediatric unit at Colchester Hospital by her GP who suspected she was suffering from the condition.
But, said her family's lawyers, the hospital failed to follow their own guidelines which recommend that any child with a temperature of more than 38 degrees centigrade should be kept in and monitored hourly, and Ellie was discharged shortly after arriving despite a recorded temperature as high as 39.9 degrees.
Even after Ellie's mother, Sarah, took her back to the hospital later that evening and the doctor recommended her condition was investigated further, a medical review was not conducted until the ward rounds 11 hours later.
Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust admitted that without the delays in treatment, Ellie would have made a full recovery.
Mrs Sutton and her husband, Gavin, were at London's High Court today to hear Paul Rees QC repeat the Trust's unreserved apology for the failings which injured their daughter: "Nothing I can say can turn the clock back but these payments will give peace of mind and secure Ellie's future - and in that future we wish them all well."
Ellie, from Witham, has been left with severe brain damage and also suffers from epilepsy and learning difficulties which affect her speech.
The £2.4 million lump sum and lifelong annual payments which will rise to £119,000 will cover her 24-hour care, transport costs, therapies, specialist equipment and suitable adaptations at home.
Judge Anthony Seys-Llewellyn heard from Ellie's counsel, Simon Readhead QC, that the quality of the care she had received from her parents had been outstanding.
"Each has done their utmost to ensure her needs are fully met and her prognosis today is due in very large part to their commitment and devotion."
Approving the settlement without hesitation, the judge told the Suttons: "In a way this is the most painful day for you because you have been thinking about what was intended to be but it is also the most reassuring day, I hope, as, in so far as money can make a difference, it will make Ellie secure."
He said he could not put into words his admiration and respect for everything they had done and achieved and continued to achieve for Ellie.
After the hearing, Mrs Sutton said: "We were devastated when we found out that Ellie had suffered brain damage and even more heart-broken for her when we found out her condition could have been avoided had simple errors not been made.
"To watch our daughter struggle with everyday life is devastating on our family and no matter what happens, nothing can change that.
"I strongly urge everyone to trust their instincts when it comes to their loved ones. We put our trust in the professionals and they do fail - leaving disastrous consequences. Nobody will know your children like you do and with meningitis, every second really does count.
"Ellie is an amazing little girl and we are very proud of her determination in life and will be behind her every step of the way."