A dancer, who suffered severe brain damage whilst a patient in hospital, was awarded a settlement worth an estimated £20million.
Kerstin Parkin, a professional dancer, was awarded the sum by Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust after suffering a heart attack while giving birth to her son Dylan in 1996. The hospital's 'crash team' had been unable to get into the maternity unit to resuscitate her because they did not have the necessary security code to open a communicating door. Mrs Parkin could have been treated with 'basic first aid', but the delays meant her heart was stopped for twenty minutes, leaving her profoundly brain damaged. As a result, she can move only some facial muscles and will spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair and require round the clock care.
The settlement was what is termed a 'structured settlement'. These are settlements that are paid over time rather than as a lump sum. They are becoming more common in medical negligence cases, especially where (as in this case) the actuarial calculations indicate that the life expectancy of the injured party is substantial.
Mrs Parkin’s husband had previously reached a settlement with the Hospital Trust for the psychological trauma resulting from his wife's injuries. The exact sum is not known, though the original claim was for £800,000.
Cases of this type illustrate several points. Firstly, the negotiation of any settlement is a complex matter, requiring expert advice. Secondly, it should not be forgotten that tragic events of this type have effects on family members as well as on the person injured.