Arksey v Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust [2019] EWHC 1276 (QB) (21 March 2019)

C [born on 17 June 1953] seeks damages for alleged negligence arising out of the failure of D to admit her on 3 November 2012 after she had suffered a sentinel bleed from a cerebral aneurysm. It is alleged on behalf of the claimant that had she been admitted, she would have avoided a major re-bleed that occurred the following day, 4 November 2012, which has led to significant disability. [2]

D’s case is that, although they were admittedly negligent in failing to admit C to hospital and carry out a CT scan, this in fact made no difference because nothing that would or could have been done would have avoided the re-bleed the following day. [3]

C developed hydrocephalus and in May 2014 a ventricular peritoneal (VP) shunt was inserted to relieve intracranial pressure. After this was adjusted in September 2014, C made considerable progress and improvement. It is admitted by D that the VP shunt should have been inserted by the end of January 2014 and, therefore, there was a negligent delay from 31 January 2014 to 14 May 2014. [4]

C alleges that consideration of the insertion of a VP shunt should have been sooner and that the delay was closer to a period of one year, rather than the three and a half months admitted by D. [5]

judgment for C only for the admitted breach of duty in relation to the failure to carry out the VP shunt for a period from 31 January 2014 to 14 May 2014, a period of three and a half months, but otherwise the claim fails. In relation to the admitted breach of duty, the longer-term outcome has been no different, in my view, to what it would have been had the VP shunt been carried out when it should have been. The only effect in causation terms is that this has put back the recovery process, which otherwise would have started on 31 January, to 14 May 2014, and it will be for the parties either to settle, or for the Court to conclude on another occasion, how that delay translates in terms of damages. [106]