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Home > News > Personal Injury News

8th January 2007

Compensation Victory After Hospital Error

A widower from Middlesex has finally won his battle for an admission of medical negligence from a hospital for the death of his wife.

Anna Eastaff from Edgeware in Middlesex died in April 2000 after being admitted to Barnet General Hospital with abdominal pain. Five days after she had been admitted Mrs Eastaff died of perforated bowel.

The hospital stated that everything that could have been done to save her had been done.

Unhappy With Hospital Treatment

Alarmed by the way that his wife had been treated, Robert Eastaff lodged a complaint about lack of care for his wife, particularly over the weekend period when she was clearly deteriorating, with the Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust. They replied stating that everything that could have been done to save his wife had been done.

Mr Eastaff continued to liaise with the Trust and in December 2001 decided to instruct the Ombudsman who advised him to continue liaising with the trust until the matter was resolved.

Medical Negligence Investigation

Mr Eastaff then asked the trust to set up an independent panel so that the circumstances surrounding his wife's death could be looked at in greater detail. In October 2003 the panel reported back stating that the a CT scan taken to check for bowel perforation when she was first admitted had been misinterpreted but that despite this Mrs Eastaff would have still probably died. In addition to this the panel made several recommendations and criticisms of the trust.

The trust never acted on these recommendations therefore Mr Eastaff referred the matter to the Ombudsman once more who this time fully upheld his complaint. In November 2005 Mr Eastaff instructed Clear Answers' lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to act on his behalf. Our solicitors then proceeded to obtain the medical evidence needed that stated that had the scan been properly read, Mrs Eastaff would have lived.

Court proceedings were issued in October 2006 and the trust finally admitted liability on December 14, the final date available for them to file a defence claim.

Representing the Eastaff family was Sarah Goodman of Clear Answers' lawyers Thompsons solicitors. She comments: Mr Eastaff has shown remarkable tenacity because throughout he believed that his wife should be alive today were it not for the incompetence of the doctors. Others would have given up, faced with the Trust's lack of interest, straight answers or respect to Mr Eastaff and his wife."

She goes on to say: "This is an extreme but not unusual case of Trusts refusing to do anything until proceedings are started then caving in. This is worrying because the recently enacted NHS Redress scheme will exclude a claimant's lawyers and will leave it to Trusts to investigate and make offers in cases less than £20,000. Mr Eastaff used all the alternatives to legal action available to him and received neither admission nor apology. "You question whether anything would have happened here but for legal action."

Commenting Mr Eastaff said: "I actually had no suspicion that the CT scan had been misread. I was more worried about the lack of cover at the weekend as my wife's condition deteriorated. I knew something was wrong - especially when they failed to explain the cause of Anna's death. I've been appalled by the behaviour of the Trust. It is one thing having come to terms with the unexpected and unnecessary loss of a loved one, but no-one should have to endure the anguish piled on top by incompetent and seemingly disinterested administrators."

Compensation Claim

Have you or a member of your family suffered as a result of medical negligence? For more information about our service or for advice about whether we can assist you with a medical negligence compensation claim contact us now on 0800 783 9019 or complete one of our online compensation claim forms. One of our representatives will contact you (without obligation) to discuss the matter further within 24 hours (48 hours at weekends).

Please go to our Costs and Risks section for more detailed information on how Clear Answers will handle your claim and funding.

Alternative funding arrangements may apply in Northern Ireland due to differing procedures and Law Society regulations.

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