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£37m settlement for boy who suffered catastrophic brain injury at Watford General

The press has widely reported Paul McNeil's claim on behalf of a six-year-old boy who contracted the herpes simplex virus at Watford General hospital in 2012, which led to a brain fever.

The failure of the paediatric team at the hospital to treat the virus appropriately caused catastrophic brain injury. He now suffers extreme behavioural difficulties, cognitive and movement difficulties, eyesight and communication problems and autism.

At an approval hearing in the Royal Courts of Justice, Mrs Justice Lambert said she was pleased West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust had admitted liability and agreed to settle his case. She approved the settlement of £37m put forward by Paul and Henry Witcomb QC.

'The effects of the negligence have been tragic both for the boy and his family,' Mrs Justice Lambert said.

Paul McNeil acknowledged that this is likely the highest award made in a clinical negligence case but said the focus should be on preventing such tragedies ever happening again. 

'No amount of compensation will allow the family to live a normal life but the settlement will ultimately enable them to access funds to pay for vital care, education and therapies to help their child live the best possible life,' Paul said.

The chief executive of the trust apologised to the boy's family in a letter sent in May 2017. He said lessons had been learned and steps had been taken to ensure 'nothing similar will ever happen again'.

Paul praised the work on the case of solicitor Nilam Patel and also said Fieldfisher's Court of Protection team will continue to work closely with the family to help manage the award.

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