£5m settlement for woman left brain damaged after long ambulance delay

A 36-year-old woman left with serious brain injuries after she was forced to wait more than 100 minutes for an ambulance has been awarded £5m

Irwin Mitchell Caren Paterson who was awarded £5m settlement after she was left brain damaged by ambulance delay
Caren Paterson who was awarded £5m settlement after she was left brain damaged by ambulance delay

An aspiring scientist has won £5m in compensation after an ambulance service blunder left her disabled for life.

Stricken Caren Paterson, who comes from Northumberland, was left brain damaged when she collapsed and was forced to wait more than 100 minutes for an ambulance - which was sitting yards from her home.

Paramedics waited near to her home in Archway, north London, because the address was classed as “high risk” and required a police escort.

The delay left the then medical researcher so badly damaged that she will never work again and will always require 24-hour care.

Yesterday, seven years after the incident, the 36-year-old was awarded £5m after the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust accepted it was wrong.

Last night her mother Eleanor Paterson, from Warkworth, said: “My daughter was a successful and ambitious scientist but it is so distressing that all of her ambitions have been taken away from her because of her brain injury.

“I was determined to ensure Caren had access to the best possible care and support for the rest of her life and it is such a huge relief that the settlement has been approved today.

“Clearly we would rather not be in this situation at all and nothing will ever return our daughter to how she was before. But it is a weight off our minds to know that she will now be able to continue to receive the care, treatment and specialist attention she needs

“The thought of an ambulance crew sitting waiting round the corner while my daughter lay in her flat as her condition went from serious to life-threatening, causing irreparable damage to her brain, is still shocking and I hope no one ever has to go through what we have.”

Caren - who had a PhD in genetics and was working as a genetic scientist at King’s College, London - collapsed in the bedroom of her flat in Hargrave Road on the afternoon of October 27, 2007, and her boyfriend called for an ambulance.

However, the address was flagged as being on the ‘high risk address register’ and the crew was told to wait for a police escort.

She suffered cardiac arrest only a few minutes before the paramedics eventually attended.

Phillip Havers QC apologised on behalf of the ambulance trust, saying: “The trust hopes and believes that the sums to be paid out under this order will provide some recompense to the claimant’s mother for the devoted care and support she has provided, and will go a long way to providing for the claimant’s needs in the future.”

Caren was initially taken to the Whittington Hospital nearby and was subsequently moved to various other institutions. She now lives in North Yorkshire, where she gets professional care.

The compensation deal, approved in London today by Judge Richard Parkes QC, includes a £1.4m lump sum, with annual, index-linked and tax-free periodical payments to fund her care for the rest of her life.


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