Clinical Negligence & Catastrophic Injury Solicitors
Compensation payback threat to family home.
A mother says she is "absolutely terrified" at the prospect of losing her home after the NHS asked for a share of a £1.8m interim settlement back when her daughter died.
Her daughter, Daisy Lowe-Martin needed round-the-clock care following an injury at Ipswich Hospital when she was eight weeks old.
Ipswich Hospital accepted 90% liability for her brain injuries following a long legal battle and a series of assessments.
After seven years, NHS solicitors allowed the family to use the interim pay out to buy a bungalow in Ipswich which they could adapt for Daisy’s needs as she grew, with wide doorways for her wheelchair; hoists to lift her and space for her medical equipment but the family had moved in only four weeks before she died in 2019, aged seven.
Her mother, Katherine Coulson, 37, who says that she now faces another court battle to save her home, said: "What happened to Daisy caused her to die at an early age and have all the problems she had. To take the money back knowing that is the reason she died is disgusting."
Daisy, who was unable to move independently, was fed by a tube and needed carers to monitor her overnight. She could not move, swallow, communicate or even smile. She also had cerebral palsy, suffered constant seizures and had a jejunum tube because her brain injury damaged her stomach and she needed constant medication.
Mrs Coulson, who was Daisy's full-time carer, said: "I just wanted the best possible life for her. This house was the ultimate goal and we battled for seven years to get it."
Daisy died six weeks before the settlement was signed off but Mrs Coulson was unaware that, if her daughter died before the final settlement, she would be expected to pay back some of the funds.
Mrs Coulson added: "This has come as a yet another blow - losing Daisy was terrible enough. We had a four-year battle with the hospital before they finally agreed that they were to blame for this life-changing tragedy.
"But, because Daisy had some undiagnosed issues before the brain injury, the hospital agreed to take only 90% responsibility."
She added: "Now they want £500,000 back but that means we will have to sell the house and have nothing left. It is unfair but apparently it is the law.
"This traumatising experience has had a devastating impact on the entire family and the repercussions are with us every day. Not only are we grieving for a child that had been cruelly denied a future but the battle to get her any help and justice was constant."
Daisy also had numerous admissions to hospital and had been on life support for weeks at a time on several occasions.
Mrs Coulson said she accepted the bungalow was too big for their needs, but hoped they could sell it and keep some of the money to buy a smaller home.
An Ipswich Hospital spokesman said a final settlement was delayed because "as with all brain injury cases involving very young children, it is very rarely possible to fully assess the damages element of the claim until the child is much older, into their teens."
But after Daisy's "tragic and unexpected" death, a "just, fair and appropriate" final settlement was agreed in court in November 2020 and the family had to "repay a small proportion of the substantial interim payment."
Mrs Coulson said: "Not only have we lost Daisy, but we'll lose our home. I'm absolutely terrified."
NHS Resolution, which deals with medical negligence claims on behalf of hospitals, declined to comment.
The hospital said it was "fair and appropriate" they pay back some funds.