Our client v an NHS Foundation Trust

Year of incident: 2017

Date of Settlement: 2023

Acting: Scott Haslam, director, clinical negligence at Wake Smith Solicitors


The Claimant fell from a height of 6-feet in March 2017. After initially thinking he had not injured himself, after a few weeks he started to experience uncontrollable spasms and altered sensation in both of his legs. A few weeks later, he noticed that he needed to urinate without much warning (urinary urgency).

He visited A&E at the Defendant Trust in April 2017.  An MRI scan was performed on his lower back, and he was told that he had some age-related degeneration but that it wasn’t the cause of his problems.  He was advised to see his GP.

He was seen by his GP in early May 2017, and they arranged some blood tests.

Over the following 6 weeks, his condition continued to deteriorate.  He developed erectile dysfunction, more pronounced and frequent leg spams which were accompanied by severe pain, and numbness in his legs and feet. He then started to experience similar symptoms in his hands including painful spasms and tingling / numbness.

He returned to A&E during this period and was advised to see his GP.

Eventually, in mid-June 2017, he collapsed and was taken back to A&E by ambulance. On this occasion he was advised to see his GP and to ask for a referral to the neurology clinic. He saw his GP the following day and received an appointment for late September 2017.

A few days later, in late June 2017, he attended A&E again.  By this point he was incontinent of urine and faeces.

He was admitted to hospital and an MRI scan of his entire spine was arranged.  On the first occasions his spasms were so pronounced that they could not perform the MRI scan. He had to be put under an anaesthetic before he could have the scan. The scan revealed a prolapsed disc in his neck which had compressed his spinal cord (cervical myelopathy).

The Claimant was transferred to another NHS Hospital specializing in neurosurgery the same day.  He underwent surgery to his spine that evening. This stopped further deterioration in his condition (which would have resulted in paralysis of all four limbs had it not been treated) but the damage to his spinal cord had already been done. His condition was now permanent.


As a result, the client suffered the following injuries/consequences:

The Claimant had previously instructed a well-known national firm of solicitors specialising in clinical negligence and spinal injuries. They declined his case on the basis that they did not believe it would succeed. He then approached Wake Smith Solicitors who agreed to help.

Expert evidence:

We instructed the following experts to prepare reports in this matter:

The Claimant’s Case

It was the Claimant’s case that his cervical myelopathy should have been identified at the time of his first attendance at A&E. Had it been, he would have been left with relatively minor symptoms. He would have been able to continue working. He would not have required mobility aids and would have been able to live independently.

Admission of liability:

Following allegations put to the Trust by Wake Smith Solicitors, the Trust admitted that the Claimant’s cervical myelopathy should have been investigated during his first attendance at A&E in April 2017 (2 months before his eventual diagnosis and surgery).

It also accepted that the care provided at the subsequent two A&E attendances was substandard and that the Claimant’s condition should have been investigated at those attendance as well.

There was some initial disagreement as to what would have happened if the Claimant's condition had been diagnosed at that juncture, with the Defendant trust suggesting it may have taken up to 3 weeks before the Claimant was actually diagnosed and treated.

Scott Haslam persevered, and the Defendant Trust eventually admitted that surgery would have occurred within 2-3 days of the Claimant’s initial attendance at A&E. 

As a result, the Defendant Trust admitted that the Claimant’s outcome would have been far better than it was. 

Wake Smith Solicitors were able to obtain multiple compensation payments during the life of the claim to enable the introduction of a significant care and support package.  Scott Haslam oversaw the instruction of a Clinical Case Manager and the introduction of the care and support package which included input from: occupational therapy, neuropsychiatry, psychiatry, psychology, physiotherapy, spinal rehabilitation, a nutritionist, and a team of carers.

The Defendant Trust never made an offer of settlement, however, a settlement was subsequently reached by negotiation and agreement between the parties.

The Proceedings:

Settled out of court.


The claim settled for a value of £3.8m.

The claim for special damages included: 

Wake Smith Solicitors have a wealth of experience in resolving disputes for those who have suffered a medical or clinical injury from Private or NHS treatment including:

For further information, or for specific advice please contact our leading clinical and medical negligence team on 0114 266 6660 or send an email through [email protected] marking it for the attention of the medical negligence team.

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