Girl left brain damaged after hospital staff failed to spot meningitis signs wins £6.3 million compensation

Outside Hemel Hempstead's Urgent Care Centre
Outside Hemel Hempstead's Urgent Care Centre

A teenage girl who suffered severe brain damage after Hemel Hempstead Hospital staff failed to act quickly when she began developing meningitis as a baby has been awarded £6.3 million in compensation.

Lauren Ansell, now 15, was rushed to the Hillfield Road facility in January 1999 at eight months old with a persistent high temperature. It was later discovered she had contracted bacterial meningitis because her condition wasn’t acted on quickly enough, and she was left profoundly deaf and with permanent disabilities and communication difficulties.

A spokesman for Blake Lapthorn, the law firm which represented Lauren, said: “It was Lauren’s case that staff at the hospital failed to appreciate how ill she was and tried to send her home. Her mother realised that Lauren was seriously ill and it was only at her insistence that she was kept in hospital overnight.

“It was Lauren’s case that she did not receive appropriate investigations or treatment and her condition deteriorated so that she developed meningitis and suffered brain damage before her condition was diagnosed.

“The Trust admitted that if Lauren had been treated with the appropriate intravenous antibiotics on the day of admission she would have avoided permanent damage.”

A negligence claim against the West Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Trust – now known as the Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust – was today successful in approving a £6.3 million compensation package for Lauren, who now lives in East Sussex.

In a hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice, it was ruled the money will be paid into the Court of Protection and will help take care of Lauren’s needs for the rest of her life.

Lauren’s family and the Trust had previously settled the issue of liability, when a spokesman for the Trust issued a public apology and admitted the teen had not received the treatment she was entitled to expect.

Clinical negligence specialist solicitor Sue Jarvis, who acted for Lauren, said: “This is an excellent outcome for Lauren after a complex and lengthy case. Lauren’s disabilities and learning difficulties are so severe that she is unlikely to ever earn her own living.

“She has been lovingly cared for by her family but it was important to ensure her long-term needs would be met.

“This settlement will ensure that Lauren is provided for throughout the rest of her life, particularly when her family are no longer able to care for her.”

Lauren also has problems with behaviour, coordination and balance, as well as learning difficulties and dyspraxia. While she will need 24-hour care for the rest of her life, the multi-million pound settlement will help her to achieve a degree of independence.

Her mother Tracy Dixon said: “It has been a long road to get to this point but now this is settled we are able to be sure that Lauren will be taken care of for the rest of her life. This was all about making sure her needs could be met in the long term.”