Delay in diagnosing brain tumour

GPs and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

This was a complex clinical negligence claim in which the Claimant sought damages from her former GPs and from the Hospital in relation to alleged delays in referring her to hospital with signs and symptoms which were eventually diagnosed as a brain tumour.

The Claimant’s allegations spanned an 8 month period of time in between her first appointment with the GP and eventually being diagnosed.

The tumour was then removed however the Claimant was left with on-going difficulties.

The Claimant’s case was that the Defendants delays materially contributed to certain of those on-going difficulties namely poor balance, impaired coordination, memory, concentration and mood as well as general fatigue.

The Claimant accepted that certain other of her on-going difficulties would have occurred in any event (because of the position of the tumour and the fact that she was always going to need surgery to remove it) namely impairments of vision, swallow and speech, neck ache and weakness.

The Defendants denied liability.

The Defendants also raised a limitation defence which said that the court proceedings were issued almost four years after the Claimant’s date of knowledge. The law allows 3 years from date of injury or date of knowledge to issue proceedings and that the claim was therefore out of date.

The Claimant contended that her date of knowledge was the date of receipt of certain medical evidence in the case and if this was not accepted by the court she would have sought the exercise of discretion under Section 33 of the Limitation Act 1980 which allows the court to disapply the limitation period in certain justified circumstances.

The Claimant would rely upon the extended recovery and rehabilitation she had following her surgery and the complexities of her case, particularly in relation to causation, in support of her request for the exercise of discretion.

The parties exchanged Witness Statements and were working through the various steps necessary to prepare the case for trial when the Defendants made an unexpected offer.

A period of negotiation followed and the claim settled for a substantial 6 figure sum. The settlement figure reflected the risk that both parties faced in taking the matter to trial and, in relation to the Claimant, the difficulties that she would face in quantifying those aspects of her ongoing injury which were allegedly caused by the Defendants’ negligence and the impact they were having on her daily life and those which she would have had in any event.