Written by

Christian Beadell - Partner, Head of Strategy and Legal Operations

A Patient Claim Line Case Study

The Incident

After Mary visited her GP with complaints of a severe headache, she was urgently referred to St Helens & Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

However, within a year she suffered a loss of vision in both eyes and was registered as sight impaired.
For over twelve months, the 74-year-old from Widnes, had multiple surgeries at St Helen’s NHS Trust, Warrington, which could not save her eyesight.


  • September 2016 attended GP with noticeable impairment of her vision and severe headaches. GP made referral via fax to St Helens/Whiston Hospital, and the Eye Clinic there requesting an urgent referral. Upon arrival, Ophthalmology Trainee diagnosed suspected AION, anterior ischaemic optic neuropathy
  • October 2016 Received an appointment to attend the eye department at St Helens Hospital for Saturday, 1st October 2016. Mary did not attend this appointment as by then she was already attending Warrington Hospital. Ophthalmology Trainee diagnosed suspected AION, anterior ischaemic optic neuropathy
  • November 2016 MRI reported no significant brain or pituitary lesion
  • March 2017 registered as sight impaired by the Consultant Ophthalmologist
  • August 2017 diagnosed with glaucoma and cataract on left eye and had unsuccessful surgery
  • December 2017 In December 2017 client underwent surgery to her right eye to treat the glaucoma and cataract on that side.

The Case

Andrew Hesketh took representation of Mary’s case.

A claim was initially pursued for the hospital’s failure to deal with the GP’s urgent referral, back in September 2016.

Andrew alleged that had Mary’s problems been identified sooner, then there was still a window of opportunity to save her vision.

As it was, this window of opportunity was missed, and by the time the problem was diagnosed, it was too late to act and her vision was restricted.

Andrew said:

“This case showed how a simple failing – in this case a failure to appreciate the urgency of the appointment required when the referral was sent by the GP to the hospital, and failing to then arrange an appointment within 24 hours – can have a catastrophic, life changing effect on the person involved.”

The Aftermath

In terms of the aftermath, Mary has been affected considerably.

Mary told Andrew she now has to be accompanied by a friend whenever she goes shopping or out of the house as she has suffered a loss of confidence moving around.

Sadly, Mary has had to abandon her plans for further adult learning and daily tasks are even more difficult. She is still able to read and watch television but has had to make adaptations to enable her to do so.

She continues topic treatment for bilateral glaucoma and systemic steroid with methotrexate for GCA.

The Outcome

The medical expert that Andrew worked with on this case was of the view that:

“But for the First Defendant’s negligence, the Claimant would have retained better vision in her left eye, would not have lost any vision in her right eye, and would not have had to be registered as being sight impaired.

“As a result, Mary has lost vision – which is clearly something that has a fundamental effect on her quality of life.

“She was intending to do some further adult learning but has been unable to do so.”

In conclusion to her settlement, Mary said:

“Thank you for all your invaluable help in sorting out my claim. You did such a great job.”

Andrew Hesketh is a Solicitor within Patient Claim Line’s Medical Negligence department.

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