£8m payout for Lowestoft 21-year-old left with brain injury

James Paget University Hospital, Gorleston, Norfolk. James Paget University Hospital, Gorleston, Norfolk.

No byline
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
11:07 PM

A talented musician, left disabled for life after medics missed early chances to spot a brain tumour, has been awarded an £8m NHS compensation payout.

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Claire Bonfield was aged 10 in 2003 when she was taken to the James Paget University Hospital, in Gorleston, having suffered persistent headaches, accompanied by vomiting, for a year.

However, it was not until five months later that a CT scan revealed that Claire, of London Road South, Lowestoft, was suffering from a brain tumour.

An operation was successful but she developed a serious post-operative infection while under the care of staff at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, which left her with a serious brain injury.

Through her father Adrian, Miss Bonfield sued the managers of both hospitals, James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

She claimed staff at Addenbrooke’s ought to have spotted and treated the infection earlier and that the chance of her developing the infection would have been drastically reduced had the tumour been spotted earlier.

Liability issues were compromised by the NHS Litigation Authority on behalf of both trusts in October 2012, with an agreement to pay Clair 90pc of a full valuation of her claim.

Yesterday Mr Justice Holroyde, sitting at the High Court, approved a settlement package worth about £8m.

As well as a £1.9m lump sum, Miss Bonfield will receive index-linked and tax-free annual payments to cover the costs of her care for life. Those payments will start at £36,585, before rising in steps to £148,000 when she is in her mid-fifties.

Jeremy Pendlebury, for Miss Bonfield, now 21, praised the “total devotion and commitment” her parents have shown in caring for her over the past decade, adding: “They are very special people indeed.”

George Hugh-Jones QC, for the NHS, made a public apology to the family in court and added his praise to the parents, paying tribute to the “sustained care and attention given over the years”.

The judge added his voice to the chorus of praise for her parents, saying they had “not only wished to do their best but had done so, contributing very greatly to their daughter’s present state of health and welfare”.

Mr Pendlebury said that, although Miss Bonfield will require care for life, she is a talented musician, producing her own ambient classical music which she hopes will attract an audience online.

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