Mother Asked To Repay Compensation After Son With Spina Bifida Dies
Readers, I’ve covered many cases of families of disabled children being given compensation by the NHS over the time I’ve been blogging. I’ve heard of cases before that.
I wrote in detail on my personal views on compensation payments here. That post focuses on Cerebral Palsy but, of course, applies to all disabilities.
Whatever my personal, sentimental views on compensation, I have never denied that these payments are very well deserved by disabled children and their families.
Very sadly, sometimes, severely disabled children who are awarded compensation die before they reach adulthood.
Very sadly, this is what happened to Calum Mackay, who passed away aged six two years ago. He was born with spina bifida and was awarded £705,000 compensation after doctors failed to spot his disability.
Now, his mother Deborah, 33, has been told she has to pay back over half the amount- £375, 000- because the payout was to pay for Calum’s care until the age of 10, which he very sadly did not reach.
Deborah Mackay told the BBC she is “devastated” by the decision but has “learned to accept” it.
Bedford Hospital NHS Trust,which made the payout, says it has a “responsibility to manage the public purse.”
Ms Mackay says she “understands” why she has to return the money. But she fears becoming homeless, as she has to sell the home where she lived with Calum, which she adapted to meet his needs, to do so.
Ms Mackay says Calum “loved” the house, and that she has ” so many beautiful memories” of being in it with him.
Now, what I would like to know is- are families often asked to return compensation after death? I’ve never heard of a family being asked to do this before, and personally, I don’t think it should happen.
Of course, compensation is awarded for the care of the disabled child. But, particularly when the child is very young, the payment is made to the family. As far as I have always understood it, part of the reason families get compensation is to cover loss of earnings when they have to give up work to care for the child.
That’s why, even though a small part of me can understand the hospital’s point, particularly in these times of cuts to so many public services, I think Ms Mackay surely deserves to keep the money, and the home where her son lived.
I wish there was something that could be done to help her.