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Widow, 48, wins permission from the High Court to fight for compensation from the NHS for her children – four years after a £340,000 payout for negligence that led to her husband’s death


A widow has won permission from the High Court to fight for compensation from the NHS for her children – four years after a £340,000 payout for negligence that led to her husband’s death.

Nicola Bayless received the payment in 2019, three years after her husband died of a serious heart condition that hospital staff should have spotted.

But the 48-year-old argued the six-figure sum didn’t cover her children, Darcy, 20, and Oscar, 15, who developed post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing their father’s death in the garden of the family home in Happisburgh, Norfolk.

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust claimed the settlement had resolved the case but a High Court judge ruled in Mrs Bayless’s favour last week.

The judgement came in the same week she discovered her family may have to evacuate their three-bedroom semi before Christmas because of dramatic erosion at the coastal town, which has left the house 50ft from a cliff edge.

Nicola Bayless has won permission from the High Court to fight for compensation for her children from the NHS, three years after her husband died of a serious heart condition that hospital staff should have spotted

Nicola Bayless has won permission from the High Court to fight for compensation for her children from the NHS, three years after her husband died of a serious heart condition that hospital staff should have spotted

Mrs Bayless discovered last week that her family may have to evacuate their three-bedroom semi before Christmas because of dramatic erosion at the coastal town, which has left the house 50ft from a cliff edge

Mrs Bayless discovered last week that her family may have to evacuate their three-bedroom semi before Christmas because of dramatic erosion at the coastal town, which has left the house 50ft from a cliff edge

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust claimed the settlement had resolved the case but a High Court judge ruled in Mrs Bayless’s favour last week

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust claimed the settlement had resolved the case but a High Court judge ruled in Mrs Bayless’s favour last week

Storms have seen 26ft of land swept away in the past month, as reported by MailOnline.

Describing her ongoing battle with the NHS, Mrs Bayless said: ‘It feels as though the hospital is trying to play games with me. It has been absolutely horrible fighting them.

‘Both of my children are incredibly traumatised by what happened. It was them that found him in the garden and that will stay with them forever. It has essentially ruined their lives.’

Steve Bayless died aged 42 on April 24, 2016, six days after he went to Norfolk and Norwich Hospital with severe chest pains.

Staff failed to spot the engineer, who worked as a welder, had symptoms of acute aortic dissection, where a tear develops on the inside of the main artery that delivers blood from the heart to the body.

Mrs Bayless launched a negligence claim against the hospital following his death and the trust eventually admitted it could have saved him if emergency surgery had been carried out.

At the time of the settlement, Mrs Bayless’s solicitors stated that the claims for the children weren’t ready but that hers could be resolved. Her legal costs were covered, in addition to damages.

But the trust then claimed the 2019 payout had settled all liability, leading to her launching a new damages claim in December last year.

NHS bosses tried to block the claim, resulting in the High Court judgement last week which opened the way for a new claim to be made.

Mrs Bayless, a registered nurse for more than 20 years, said her late husband was a ‘lovely guy’ and ‘great dad’ and the ongoing battle for compensation had led to her ‘losing all faith in the NHS’.

She added: ‘I just want to get the whole thing resolved for the sake of my kids. They will always need to receive help and support.’

Mrs Bayless, a registered nurse for more than 20 years, said her late husband was a ‘lovely guy’ and ‘great dad’ but had lost all faith in the NHS with the ongoing battle for compensation

Mrs Bayless, a registered nurse for more than 20 years, said her late husband was a ‘lovely guy’ and ‘great dad’ but had lost all faith in the NHS with the ongoing battle for compensation

While she has taken a step forward in her legal battle with the NHS, she is about to lose a war with nature.

The family’s £375,000 home was 670ft from the cliff edge when her late parents bought it in 2001 but recent storms have left it dangerously close to the edge.

They were aware the land would eventually be claimed by the sea as the government had decided not to upgrade sea defences to protect the area, which mainly consists of clay and soil. But at the time of purchase, surveyors said it should last for 150 years.

North Norfolk District Council have told Mrs Bayless she is their ‘first priority’ to be relocated but she said compensation she’s due for the enforced move will not even be close to the property’s full value if it stood on solid ground.

‘Losing your home is like another part of the grieving process,’ she added.

A hospital trust spokesman said: ‘Our deepest condolences are with the family of Mr Bayless following their loss and we wish to repeat our sincere apologies for the missed opportunity to diagnose the seriousness of his condition.

‘We can confirm that, following an application made by the trust and subsequently withdrawn, a High Court judge has ordered that legal costs are paid to Mrs Bayless’s solicitors.

‘As there are ongoing legal proceedings, we cannot comment further.’

In an excoriating written judgement issued on November 23, Mr Justice Pepperall criticised the trust’s solicitors, saying they were ‘in something of a glass house’.

The family’s £375,000 home was 670ft from the cliff edge when her late parents bought it in 2001 but recent storms have left it dangerously close to the edge

The family’s £375,000 home was 670ft from the cliff edge when her late parents bought it in 2001 but recent storms have left it dangerously close to the edge

He explained: ‘The trust paid out £340,000 plus costs in settlement of a claim without obtaining a good discharge.

‘It is elementary that one does not pay sums in settlement of a claim brought by or on behalf of children or protected parties without first requiring such claimants to obtain the court’s approval.

‘It is no answer to say the trust’s lawyers assumed that that had been done.’

The judge added the trust ‘withdrew an application that it ought to have realised, on proper investigation, was always liable to be dismissed’.



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