Settlement of Compensation for Ambulance Delay Approved in Court

A settlement of compensation for an ambulance delay that resulted in a former genetic scientist sustaining brain damage has been approved at the High Court.

In October 2007, Caren Paterson collapsed in the bedroom of her Islington flat in North London and an ambulance was called by her boyfriend. Despite being informed that Caren was unconscious, breathing abnormally and that her lips had turned blue, the ambulance that was dispatched to her flat waited for 100 minutes along the road, as Caren´s address had been flagged as being in an area of high risk and paramedics were told to wait for police to arrive.

Five minutes before police arrived to escort paramedics into Caren´s flat, she went into cardiac arrest and sustained permanent brain damage which has now left her with chronic amnesia, confusion and disorientation. Caren requires around-the-clock care and will never be able to return to her job as a genetic scientist at Kings College.

Due to Caren being unable to represent herself, an injury claim for compensation for the ambulance delay was made on her behalf by her mother – Eleanor Paterson from Warkworth in Northumberland – who claimed in her action against the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust that, if it had not been for their negligence in mistakenly flagging Caren´s flat as high risk, Caren would not have sustained permanent brain damage.

The London Ambulance Service NHS Trust admitted liability for Caren´s brain injury, and a package of compensation for the ambulance delay was negotiated which consists of a £1.4 million lump sum payment to be paid immediately and index-linked payments every year thereafter. The settlement is worth approximately £5 million pounds and should allow Caren to move from her specialist care unit into her own home, where she will be cared for by trained brain injury nurses.

At the High Court, Judge Richard Parkes and Caren´s mother heard an apology read out in court by the barrister representing the London Ambulance NHS Trust, after which Judge Parkes approved the settlement of compensation – paying tribute to the care that Eleanor Paterson had provided for her daughter since the tragic circumstances of her injury six years ago.