Colin & Iris Freeman's story
"I was 39 and working as a scientist for QinetiQ when I developed pneumonia and had to be admitted to Frimley Park Hospital. The ward was chaotic and despite being no better I was discharged ten days later. I understand that doctors had planned to carry out further tests but these were never done. I was not coping well at home and when I went back to the hospital on Christmas Day, struggling to breathe, I was again discharged without treatment.
If the tests had been done the doctors would have found an infection on my heart which would have been easily treated. However, these were not done and three weeks later I collapsed at home with a severe left-sided stroke and very nearly died. As a result, I have been left brain damaged and paralysed down my left side.
I spent 11 months in various hospitals undergoing rehabilitation. The severity of my injuries left me dependent on others. I had to learn to walk again. The steps leading to our narrow front door prevented me ever entering the family home again. I could only be discharged from hospital once my wife, Iris, had sold the house and, with the help of family, bought somewhere else. If this had not been possible I would have had to be put in a care home. We began to struggle at home with unreliable carers from social services. Iris did the best she could to care for me with the support of family and friends but we had very little help from outside agencies.
The difficulty of living at home with inadequate support came to a head when I fell and fractured my hip as I was getting up from a chair one day. I spent another 9 months in hospital. Any of the limited mobility I had so painstakingly worked to regain was lost- now I can only walk a few steps. Once again my new home was no longer suitable: there was not enough room for a wheelchair and I could not get upstairs. My family rented accommodation. Since the accident we have had to move 4 times.
At the time of my stroke, my three children were just 9, 6 and 4. It has all had a devastating impact on our family life. I returned to work briefly but had to eventually retire because of the severity of my brain injury.
Although the hospital denied any fault, we turned to Slater & Gordon Lawyers. After a difficult legal investigation, our solicitor, Paul Sankey, established that the Trust responsible for Frimley Park Hospital had been negligent. It became clear that my stroke arose from the failure of hospital staff to carry out further tests at the outset. We also established that proper management would have prevented my brain injury.
Paul eventually recovered substantial compensation for me, transforming our lives. It has enabled me to buy a new home adapted for disabled living. Tasks I was not previously able to perform I can now do with less help from others. Where I used to be confined to the downstairs I can now use a lift and so for the first time in years I am able to put my daughters to bed. Now I can get into all the rooms in our home and can enjoy the garden. There is space for the physiotherapy equipment where I can exercise and develop my movement. After my stroke I had to make weekly trips to a charitable centre for a bath. Now I have the right equipment to shower safely at home. I now also have carers who can look after me 24 hours a day, I can travel in a wheelchair-adapted vehicle and I can go on holiday with my family again. These may seem like little things but they have made such a difference to my life."
I am very grateful to my solicitor Paul Sankey who has fought for justice for me and obtained substantial damages for me.
Paul Sankey, commented, ‘It has been a privilege to act for Colin and to get to know his family. This has been a long battle for justice and whilst nothing can turn the clock back, the award should at least make a devastating situation more bearable. The burden of the last few years have been intolerable not just for Colin but for his whole family. Hopefully they can look forward to the future with a better quality of life."