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‘Lessons Must Be Learned’ After NHS Trust Admits Test Result Failings Led To Bexhill Woman’s Stroke

Family Speak Out As Part Of Action For Brain Injury Week

21.05.2019

Andrew Hewitt, Press Officer | 0114 274 4255

The family of a mother-of-two from Bexhill who suffered a devastating stroke after experts interpreted test results incorrectly have urged that lessons must be learned from her case, following news that the NHS Trust involved has admitted to errors in her care.

Heather Rollings, 62, underwent a CT angiogram at Conquest  Hospital in April 2007 after suffering an extensive subarachnoid haemorrhage. Doctors treating her considered that she was making a gradual and partial recovery from her initial stroke. Crucially, a radiologist concluded there was no evidence of an aneurysm on the CT angiogram and so no further treatment was provided.

The former nurse had suffered some impairments following the initial stroke, but made good progress with her recovery. Although she did not return to work, after rehabilitation and with support from her family she was living at home with her husband. However, her family were then left devastated when she went on to suffer another, more severe stroke in 2015 which left her immobile, with limited speech and requiring 24-hour care in a nursing home.

Following the second stroke, her loved ones instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her care, with the legal experts concluding there had been a failure to identify and treat an aneurysm after the stroke in 2007 – this had been clearly visible on the CT angiogram conducted at Conquest Hospital but had been reported incorrectly so no action had been taken.

Now, East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust has admitted that the aneurysm was missed on the April 2007 CT and that better care should have been provided and this would, on balance, have prevented the second stroke. Heather’s husband Quentin, is keen to ensure that the Trust learn from this devastating error, so no other individual has to suffer in the way that his wife has.

He made the call as part of Action for Brain Injury Week taking place from 20 May, the annual campaign held by Headway to put a spotlight on brain injury issues.

Expert Opinion
“This is a truly devastating case in which a family have seen a much-loved mother and grandmother suffer two strokes in the space of eight years, with it subsequently emerging that the second could have been avoided if the aneurysm had been correctly detected on the CT from 2007.

“While it is very welcome that the NHS Trust has admitted liability in this case, we are now determined to ensure Heather can get access to the support and assistance she requires.

“It is also absolutely vital that the clear – and shocking – failings in this case are simply never allowed to happen again.”
Leena Savjani, Partner

Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in handling medical negligence cases 

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust’s legal representatives agreed with Irwin Mitchell’s conclusion that proper interpretation of the CT scan in 2007 would have led to the identification of an aneurysm, with it then being treated with either clipping or coiling to prevent future bleeds. Such a procedure would have reduced the likelihood of the second stroke, which occurred when the aneurysm bled again.

Following the second stroke, former nurse Heather is limited to being able to say only one word, while she also uses a wheelchair and needs assistance with all kinds of everyday activities. Her extensive needs have meant her family have had no choice but to place her in a care home which has been devastating for them.

Her husband Quentin, 55, said: “When Heather went through the first stroke and made a reasonably good recovery we hoped that she would never face anything like that ever again. When the second happened we were all just completely devastated.

“The circumstances of what has happened are very hard to accept and I just hope that taking this action will mean that the problems seen in Heather’s case are never repeated. I am also keen to get Heather’s life back on track with proper care and rehabilitation.

“Getting the admission is a welcome step and we hope that East Sussex Healthcare Trust’s lawyers will work pragmatically with Irwin Mitchell to ensure that Heather’s claim is concluded expeditiously.  Action for Brain Injury Week is an important initiative and an opportunity to reflect on the challenges that those with brain injuries face every day.

“I hope Heather’s case will enable the public to learn about and understand the devastating consequences a brain injury can have on an individual and their family.”