Northampton family lose £500,000 damages against hospitals over daughter’s death

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The family of a teenage mum who died when a surgeon negligently drilled into her brain as she awaited a liver transplant have lost their £500,000 damages claim against the NHS.

Rachel Bradshaw, of Kingsthorpe, Northampton, was only a few days short of her 19th birthday when she died at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital in February 2009.

The teenager had taken a paracetamol overdose after breaking up with her boyfriend and was in Birmingham following a transfer from Northampton General Hospital.

But she tragically died - leaving a now seven-year-old daughter Kyla - after an NHS surgeon mistakenly placed a pressure monitoring bolt in her brain.

Following the tragedy, her parents, Brian, 47, and Terry Brock, 50, sued Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust on behalf of the little girl for the loss of her mum.

Had Rachel been treated properly for the overdose, they said, her liver would not have failed and she would not have had to go to Birmingham, where she died.

They did not sue the University Hospital Birmingham Foundation NHS Trust for the death, because it was accepted Rachel would have died days later anyway.

But they did make a claim against the Birmingham trust for the “nervous shock” they said they were caused by the way Rachel died.

Yesterday, ruling on the case at London’s High Court, Judge Michael Yelton dismissed all of the family’s claims.

Medics in Northampton could not have been expected to do more than they did, he said.

And the parents could not prove that the psychological damage they have suffered was caused by something ‘akin to witnessing an accident’, he said.

In a statement, the parents said: “We loved our daughter, Rachel. She was a fantastic daughter, sister, mother. We will never forget her and we can never close the gap in our lives that her passing has left.

“It was with a heavy heart that we embarked on this legal action but felt we had no choice but to do this because the only way to have the issues regarding Rachel’s treatment fully aired was by pursuing a civil claim.

“That has now been done and we can all move on, knowing we did our best for our daughter,”

The court heard Rachel went to Northampton General after her overdose on February 1, 2009, and was sent home.

She returned to the hospital to see a GP when she began to feel unwell and was again sent home, only to return later and be transferred to Birmingham with liver failure.

Her parents said she should have been seen by A&E staff on the second hospital visit, when she saw the GP, and had her blood tested.

But Judge Yelton said he was not convinced that the GP had asked the A&E staff for their opinion, meaning they could not have been expected to do anything.

A spokeswoman for NGH said: “While we continue to have the utmost sympathy for Rachel’s family, we note that the Court agreed that the treatment that Rachel received at Northampton General Hospital was appropriate.”