Mum hopes hospital learns from mistakes

12 August 2010, 06:00

A mum from Northampton says she hopes her local hospital learns from mistakes, which could have contributed to her son losing his eye.

Yesterday (Wednesday) the family was awarded a substantial five figure settlement by the High Court, after their son needed to have his right eye removed.

Harvey Dellar - who's now 3 - was 12-months-old when his parents noticed his right eye was turning inwards. They took him to an optician, who referred him to Northampton Hospital for immediate treatment.

However, because of an admin error, Harvey wasn't seen by a consultant until around three months later, when doctor's diagnosed him with a retinoblastoma - which is a rare form of cancer. The tumour had spread so far that surgeons had to remove his eye.

Harvey's mum, 33-year-old Caroline Haywood, told Heart:

"Within maybe half an hour to an hour of being told - probably even 20 minutes - I was sitting there holding artificial eyes. You can't even prepare yourself for it. We had to be strong - you have no choice - and we were strong. But at the same time, we look back and know that errors were made."

Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust has fully admitted liability, and now Ms Haywood hopes lessons have been learnt so that similar incidents can't happen in the future.

She believes the outcome could have been different if her son had been diagnosed sooner:

"My son may not have lost his eye if he had been treated and diagnosed more quickly, following the opticians concerns. Although the cancer would probably have meant his sight would have been affected, they could have saved the eye and avoided the need for an artificial eye in the future."

The five figure sum, which was approved by the High Court in Birmingham, will be held in a trust for Harvey until he is older. It could be used to help with further medical assistance in the future, as Harvey has a genetic condition which means he could develop the cancer in the other eye.

Ms Haywood said:

"We still go for checks every four months now on his left eye, which means losing the right eye has obviously put him - and us - under more stress. So for Harvey we don't know what the future holds, so it's very important that we feel that we've prepared for anything that might come along now."

In a statement Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust said it is pleased that the court has approved the settlement agreed between the parties, and that it wishes Harvey and his family well for the future.