Blinded Winchester patient wins payout after 'negligent' GP fails to spot signs of meningitis

Julie Coakley

The Gratton Surgery in Sutton Scotney: GP Henrietta Rosie found to be negligent

First published in Winchester
Last updated

A HAMPSHIRE artist who was struck blind after a GP negligently failed to diagnose meningitis has won her legal battle for compensation.

The High Court upheld Julie Coakley’s claim for negligence against a family doctor who failed to spot tell-tale signs of the bug.

The amount of damages has been agreed but not revealed. Her claim had earlier been valued at over £1 million.

The court heard that Mrs Coakley, 48, visited the Gratton Surgery in Sutton Scotney near Winchester in January 2008 with strong signs of meningitis.

But Dr Henrietta Rosie diagnosed a respiratory tract infection and prescribed bed rest and plenty of fluids.

Judge Oliver-Jones QC said: “Dr Rosie failed to observe and examine the rashes thoroughly or more than superficially...she failed to examine Mrs Coakley properly and, in particular, failed to examine her neck for stiffness and to heed her query about meningitis.

“Dr Rosie failed to suspect, diagnose or exclude, and consequently failed to treat Mrs Coakley for, bacterial meningitis when she should have done and when a reasonably competent GP would have done so.”

He concluded: "These findings lead to the regrettable but inevitable conclusion that Dr Rosie was negligent...and thus in breach of the duty of care she owed to Mrs Coakley as her patient".

Mrs Coakley, from South Wonston, was on the verge of establishing herself as a glass designer when she was struck down by bacterial meningitis in January 2008.

Within hours of Dr Rosie sending her home untreated, she collapsed and spent several days in a coma. Family members at her hospital bedside were warned to expect the worst.

Mrs Coakley, who was in her final year of a three dimensional design course at the University of Creative Arts, finally came round, but was left totally blind and partially deaf. She was also stricken by balance problems and facial palsy.

She gained a first class degree and works as an artist. She was unavailable for comment.

Dr Rosie, in a statement, said: “I am glad that the case has now reached a conclusion, and wish Mrs Coakley and her family the best for the future.”

Dr Rosie left the Gratton Surgery several years ago. She joined in 1985 and from 1991 was a part-time partner.

The Gratton declined to comment.

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