St Albans locum receives £335,000 compensation for the NHS’ negligence in the death of her husband
PUBLISHED: 17:00 21 November 2016
An A&E locum at Watford General has been awarded £335,000 in damages after her husband died as a result of the negligence of medics at the hospital where she worked.
Rohan Rupasinghe, an engineer from St Albans, and his hospital doctor wife, Kumudu, 38, had everything to look forward to before tragedy struck in 2010.
But Mr Rupasinghe died from a massive heart attack at the age of just 33, after staff at Watford General Hospital failed to spot warning signs that his life was in danger.
Dr Rupasinghe, 38, worked as an A&E locum at Watford General whilst she trained as a consultant, the High Court heard. In the witness box, she told the court: “My dream was to be a consultant.”
But she ended up suing West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which admitted negligence and was ordered to pay her £335,000 in damages.
Mr Justice Jay said the “intellectually brilliant” parents-of-two had a “tightly-knit family life” and glittering careers before them when Mr Rupasinghe died.
Gordon Bebb QC, for Dr Rupasinghe, told the judge her husband “died as a result of the NHS Trust’s admitted breaches of duty.”
He had a family history of heart trouble and had displayed worrying signs during examinations and “abnormal ECGs,” the barrister added.
Medics should have realised that Mr Rupasinghe’s heartbeat could be erratic and that he was at risk of suffering sudden cardiac failure.
He was the family “breadwinner” and a “hands on father who shared child minding duties”.
Mr Bebb said he should have been fitted with an ICD, a type of pacemaker, which would have saved his life.
Dr Rupasinghe’s hopes of becoming a consultant specialising in acute medicine were destroyed by her husband’s death, the court heard.
With two young children to look after and a gruelling job as an A&E doctor, it was impossible for her to continue on her chosen career path, said the QC.
Mr Bebb told the judge: “Dr Rupasinghe was likely to be a consultant in her chosen speciality by 2019 when she would be aged 41.”
Had it not been for her husband’s death, she would have been earning six figures by the time she was in her 50s, he added.
But, the QC added: “Between them, she and her husband would have managed child care duties. The death of Mr Rupasinghe brought an end to all these plans.
“Hiring nanny care would have meant ceding childcare of a three year old and a baby to a stranger at prohibitive cost.”
Her husband’s death had left her heavily out of pocket but Mr Justice Jay ruled that the law did not allow her to claim for her own lost earnings.
She and her children, aged nine and six, were however entitled to compensation for their bereavement and “loss of dependency” on their husband and father.