Man left severely disabled after a hospital blunder can return to his family

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A man who was left severely disabled due to a hospital error made while he was still in his mother’s womb was today (November 6) awarded a £7 million settlement.

Ronak Patel, now 30, was born with severe cerebral palsy after his mother suffered a ruptured appendix which exposed him to toxins in the womb and starved his brain of oxygen, leading to catastrophic damage.

Our Clinical negligence solicitor, Sue Jarvis, represented Ronak in a claim against North West London Hospitals NHS Trust.

Ronak’s claim was made on the basis that staff at Northwick Park Hospitals in Harrow, north-west London, failed to diagnose and treat his mother Smita’s appendicitis when she was seven months’ pregnant in 1982.

Ronak has no useful movement in his limbs, which jerk uncontrollably, and he cannot see, sit unaided, stand, walk or talk. He also suffers from epilepsy and severe learning difficulties.

Because of the demands and difficulties of caring for Ronak, his parents reluctantly agreed that he should move to a care home in 2005.

Today’s settlement, approved by a High Court Judge, means Ronak can at last return to his family. He is already staying at the family home for extended periods thanks to the assistance of care workers and will be able to spend Christmas there.

The settlement includes a lump sum of £2.7m which will be used to purchase, adapt and equip a home to meet Ronak’s needs, and each year he will also receive £232,000, index-linked to the cost of care, to enable him to buy round-the-clock support.

The money will be paid into the Court of Protection to be used for Ronak's benefit and will be carefully managed by Sue Jarvis on behalf of the family.

Mrs Patel and husband Jitendra were convinced that poor care at Northwick Park Hospital had contributed to Ronak’s disabilities and sought legal advice soon after his birth in January 1983.

But they did not use a specialist solicitor and were advised that Ronak did not have a claim. Ronak’s dedicated parents looked after him themselves until they made the difficult decision to move their son to a care home in 2005.

Ronak returned to his family for regular, prolonged visits but these became more difficult after Mr Patel died in 2008.

Mrs Patel then became aware that Sue Jarvis leads a team at our firm that deals only with cerebral palsy claims and has an excellent track record of success in obtaining compensation for clients such as Ronak many years after they were severely damaged.

With Sue's assistance, Mrs Patel was able to enrol a team of experts who supported Ronak's claim. Proceedings were issued and in January 2012, a High Court Judge approved a settlement reached with the trust that Ronak would receive 90 per cent of the full value of his claim. The family agreed the compromise rather than going to trial.

An interim payment was obtained while the full amount that Ronak should receive was assessed by various experts, and that money was used to buy aids and equipment for Ronak as well as to recruit a team of specially-trained carers so that Ronak was able to be with his family for longer periods.

Today Mrs Patel, of Pinner, north-west London, said: “Ronak had a very demanding childhood and by the age of eight was so attached to us that he couldn’t do anything without us there.

“Now he has learned that he can rely on other people and is able to trust them. The settlement means he can stay with me and I will have help to care for him. We have explained to him what is happening and he is very excited.

“It has been a very difficult process for us but Sue Jarvis has been a pillar of strength and knowledge for us.”

Sue Jarvis said she was delighted that our team was able to achieve the settlement and enable Ronak to return to his family.

She said: “Ronak has a delightful personality and a wicked sense of humour and I have the utmost admiration for his family, who have given him such loving care over the years as they tried desperately to cope with his catastrophic damage and increasing disabilities.

“It is a credit to them all that Ronak is such a charming and delightful man who clearly basks in the love of his family. I am delighted that we have been able to secure this settlement on Ronak’s behalf to ensure that he can remain with his family and be given the specialist care he needs in the years to come.”

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