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£15m for Jacob Stratton, 9, after meningitis went undiagnosed

By Chris Pragnell

A child left permanently brain-damaged after out-of-hours GPs failed to diagnose meningitis has been awarded £15 million in damages.

Jacob Stratton, nine, was just six weeks old when he contracted the disease.

His parents were advised by doctors at the time to give him Calpol and keep him at home.

Jacob Stratton has cerebral palsy and quadriplegia
Jacob Stratton has cerebral palsy and quadriplegia

Jacob has been left with cerebral palsy and quadriplegia and will need round-the-clock care for life.

After a lengthy legal battle, he has been awarded £15 million compensation by the High Court.

It is thought to be one of the highest ever negligence awards involving out-of-hours GPs.

Nick Fairweather, the Whitstable-based solicitor who represented the Strattons, has described the tragedy as a “crass error” resulting from a “basic failure to follow simple procedures”.

Parents David and Mandy Stratton, who work near Canterbury, had rung the out-of-hours clinic in 2007 when baby Jacob fell ill with a high temperature and seizures.

They were told to give their son a dose of Calpol – infant medicine containing paracetamol.

The following day they took Jacob to an out-of-hours walk-in centre near their home in Folkestone. This time he was sent home, without his temperature being taken.

Jacob Stratton has been awarded £15 million
Jacob Stratton has been awarded £15 million

Jacob was taken to William Harvey Hospital in Ashford the next day, where he was diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis – a form of bacterial meningitis.

Mr Stratton said: “We were told when he was admitted that he had 30 minutes to live. It was terrifying.”

Jacob was transferred to St Thomas’ Hospital in central London, where he spent four days on life support.

Mr Stratton said: “We were told they were going to take him off the life support machine, but they did not know what capability he had.

“If he had lost his reflux – the ability to cough and clear his throat – then he would die.”

Jacob was left in intensive care after doctors misdiagnosed his condition
Jacob was left in intensive care after doctors misdiagnosed his condition

Mr and Mrs Stratton were told their son had extensive brain damage. Jacob, who has cerebral palsy and quadriplegia, is confined to a wheelchair and needs constant care.

He is learning to communicate with an “eye gaze” computer and attends a special needs school.

Mr Stratton, speaking to the Times, said: “We trusted the doctors – we spoke to two different GPs. This settlement is not compensation for Jacob. It is enablement, to allow him to live as well as he can.”

The money will be released periodically during Jacob’s life and will be held and administered by a court-appointed official.

Jacob Stratton was awarded a multi-million pounds payout
Jacob Stratton was awarded a multi-million pounds payout

Speaking to the BBC, Mrs Stratton said: “Jacob is an absolute charmer. He’s very cognitively aware, he knows exactly what’s going on around him.

“He has a zest for life. All the challenges he faces, he’s gradually working his way around them.”

Mr Fairweather, of Fairweathers Solicitors in Whitstable, specialises in medical negligence cases.

He said: “If a small amount of the sums that have to be paid in damages were redirected to frontline services, it would save huge sums, improve healthcare immeasurably and avoid the wholly unnecessary suffering that is caused to patients such as Jacob and their families.”

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