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Man awarded £65,000 after losing eyesight following wrong diagnosis

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A ‘FIT AND HEALTHY’ grandad of four lost his sight, had a stroke and a double heart bypass, and will eventually lose his eye, after an on-call ophthalmologist failed to investigate his symptoms on New Year’s Day.

When 74-year-old Andrew Baker of Narberth, woke up on January 1, 2017, with black spots in front of his eyes, never could he have imagined that just days later he would have lost all vision in one eye.

When the black spots started to turn into floaters, redness, pain and loss of vision in his right eye later that day, Mr Baker – who had never experienced issues with his sight before – took the advice of his GP son-in-law and went straight to A&E at Glangwili General Hospital.

Mr Baker was seen by a doctor and his condition was discussed with the on-call ophthalmologist over the phone but, as it was New Year’s Day, the ophthalmologist failed to attend to examine him. Diagnosed with vitreous haemorrhage and with a plan put in place for him to be provided with ointment and analgesia, Mr Baker went home.

Had Mr Baker been examined by an ophthalmologist, it would have been confirmed as an ophthalmic emergency and he would have undergone a vitreous biopsy and antibiotic injections, which would have saved some of the sight in his right eye.

The following day, Mr Baker woke up to find that he was completely blind in his right eye and in severe pain. He attended the Tysul Eye Unit at Glangwili General Hospital on January 3, 4 and 5 – and was diagnosed with endogenous endophthalmitis – a very severe sight-threatening condition. Mr Baker was then told that a mistake had been made and that the two days in between his symptoms first appearing and his condition being confirmed had been critical with his sight loss.

The first 48 hours from this condition developing are vital in attempting to save the vision in the eye and the on-call ophthalmologist’s failure to attend the hospital to examine Mr Baker and the wrongful diagnosis of vitreous haemorrhage meant that Mr Baker’s eye sight could not be saved.

On January 6, Mr Baker was operated on to try to save the vision in his right eye, however this proved unsuccessful and he lost complete vision in his right eye. He subsequently required an operation to repair the inward turning of the eyelid and in the future, will need an operation to remove the eye.

Mr Baker contacted Fletchers Solicitors to commence a medical negligence claim against the Hywel Dda University Health Board on his behalf.

Fletchers successfully pursued the claim and Mr Baker was awarded £65,000 from the hospital for the delay in diagnosis.

Andrew Tindall, litigation executive in the medical negligence team at Fletchers Solicitors, said: “The facts of this case go to show just how important physical examinations of patients are, and that in some instances a diagnosis over the telephone can have devastating consequences.

“If the on-call ophthalmologist had attended to Mr Baker as he/she should have done, he would still have some sight in his right eye and would not require the removal of his eye in the future. No amount of money will bring the sight back in Mr Baker’s eye, but I do hope the compensation awarded can go some way to helping Mr Baker with his future needs.”

After his operation, Andrew’s health went rapidly downhill. He had a mini-stroke due to endocarditis and had to have a double heart bypass. In September 2017, Andrew had a recurrence of endocarditis, was put on an intensive course of intravenous antibiotics and was in hospital for six weeks.

Mr Baker commented: “I am bitterly upset at my loss of vision; particularly because I have been told that if I had been treated in time, it could have been saved.

“I just wanted an apology and someone to say that they were sorry for letting this happen to me. I’ve known people who have lost their vision, but I didn’t appreciate the impact it has on your life – it’s completely ruined my life. I can’t drive or read anymore; there is so much that I am no longer able to do.”

“I was a fit 72-year-old and now I’m like an old man. I used to walk about eight miles a day but now I’m lucky if I can manage 600 yards.  Some days I don’t even want to get up in the morning because I know I’m not going to be able to do the things that I want to do. I had such a good life and I’ve lost so much.”

Mr Baker has had three operations to try to repair his eye and give him some vision back, but each operation has failed.

Mr Baker added: “Andrew was extremely efficient, and I was very, very pleased with all his efforts on my behalf. He was amazing throughout the case.

“The compensation was greater than I ever expected, and it will help with things that I need in the future, but nothing can compensate for what I’ve lost.”

News

Milford Haven: Concerns over council refuse collection staff using drugs on duty

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL have confirmed that they are conducting an ongoing internal investigation.

The probe is relating to “illegal drug use by on-duty refuge collection crews” operating from the Thornton Refuge Depot in Milford Haven.

The Herald understands that following suspicions being raised, drug testing was carried out on refuse crews on Monday (May 10) – all before they left their depot.

This newspaper has been told that a number staff, which includes bin lorry drivers, tested positive for drug use, and that the council called in the police.

That information was passed to The Herald by someone who we have confirmed to be a member of staff working at Pembrokeshire County Council, who did not want to be named.

After a request for a statement, a spokesperson for the council has stressed that none of their vehicles were involved, suggesting that, on the day in question, positive tests were arrived at before any bin lorries had left the depot.

As part of the multi-agency operation the police were called and attended Thornton Refuse Depot, but did not make any arrests, and said they had little involvement in the operation.

Pembrokeshire County Council spokesperson said: “We can confirm that there is an ongoing internal workplace investigation and can clarify that there was no police involvement on the day in question – no Pembrokeshire County Council vehicles were involved.

“We are not in a position to comment any further at this time.”

Dyfed Powys Police told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “At the request of Pembrokeshire County Council, officers attended Thornton Refuse Depot to provide [them with] support on the morning of Monday, May 10.

“Officers attended; however they were not utilised.”

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News

Council’s Planning Committee approves ambitious dockyard plans

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL’s Planning Committee this morning (Tuesday, May 18) approved an application for the construction of a new marine engineering project at Pembroke Dock’s Royal Dockyard.
The plans, vociferously opposed by local heritage groups, passed unanimously.

The matter will now go to the Welsh Government, which has reserved its position on the scheme’s approval.
Committee members expressed the view that the balance between heritage and economic development were balanced, with strong views expressed on either side. They decided the balance of the application favoured economic development subject to conditions regarding aspects of the site’s preservation and its ability to be restored in the future.

The Committee members who attended a site visit on Wednesday, May 12, said it was the most informative and best site visit they had this council term. Visiting the site gave them a clearer idea about what was planned and the scale of the project, which would not have been gained from a paper exercise.

While the approval of the scheme was unanimous, one element of the reserved matters caused some members concern: the height and size of the proposed massive new sheds which would be built at a later phase of the project.
Cllr David Pugh, seconded by Cllr Steve Alderman, moved an amendment which would approve the project and delegate reserved matters to officers apart from the sheds’ construction, which would return to the Committee for detailed approval.

Cllr Tony Wilcox and Cllr Mark Carter emphasised the need for certainty regarding the project’s development, a position supported by Cllr David Howlett, Cllrs Pugh, Alderman and Cllr Stephen Joseph said that little delay would be caused to the scheme by bringing the sheds’ development back to the Committee. They noted the significant intrusion of the sheds into the landscape for miles around.

Planning Officer Mike Simmons advised that the project would proceed in five phases and that the applicant, Milford Haven Port Authority, was keen to proceed with the first phase as soon as possible. The first phase would be the infilling of the docks and pool, removing a caisson gate and preserving it, before the building of new slipways.
The Port Authority already accepted the sheds would only be built if there was commercial demand for them.
The amendment proposed by Cllr Pugh passed by six votes to five with two abstentions.

It means before the sheds are built, the Committee will decide the detailed application relating to them.

All other aspects of the development will be decided by officers.

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Business

Further Covid-19 business support packages to become available soon

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PEMBROKESHIRE businesses that remain affected by Covid-19 restrictions can check their eligibility for a new package of support from the Welsh Government.

This latest support package will help those businesses eligible to meet ongoing costs through to the end of June as they prepare for re-opening and more normal trading conditions.

Businesses that stand to benefit include:

  • nightclubs and late entertainment venues
  • events and conference venues not covered by the Welsh Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF)
  • hospitality and leisure businesses, including restaurants, pubs and cafes
  • supply chain business, which have been materially impacted by restrictions

An eligibility checker has opened on the Business Wales website so businesses can find out how much support they are likely to be entitled to and how to apply.

See more information and check your business’ eligibility at: https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice/

Funding will be calculated based on the size of the business and the type of restrictions they are under.

Businesses will be able submit applications to the Welsh Government from 24th May 2021 for grants of up to £25,000 and by the end of the month to Pembrokeshire County Council for smaller fixed Discretionary Grants.

To keep up to date and see the future application process for the Discretionary Grants please see: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/business-advice-and-support

The above link will be be updated with the latest information.  

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