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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 January 2008, 17:57 GMT
5m hospital bug payout for Ash
Leslie Ash
Leslie Ash has campaigned for better infection control in hospitals
Actress Leslie Ash has won a record 5m compensation payout after contracting a hospital-acquired infection.

The Men Behaving Badly star developed MSSA (Methicillin-Sensitive Staphylococcus Aureus) at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London in 2004.

The payment to Ms Ash, 47, who now walks with a stick, includes compensation for money she would have earned if she had carried on working.

The hospital said it had "learnt from its mistakes".

It's the highest we have ever paid out
Steve Walker, NHS Litigation Authority chief executive

Ms Ash had been admitted to hospital in April 2004 after suffering two cracked ribs after falling off her bed on to a table during a love-making session with her husband, retired footballer Lee Chapman.

MSSA, unlike MRSA, does respond to standard antibiotic treatment.

Ms Ash's lawyer, Janice Gardner, from Russell Cooke solicitors, said the actress was pleased with the payout and that the case had been settled out of court.

Hard going

"I think she is delighted that we could reach an amicable settlement.

"Nobody really wants to go to court. It would have been hard going for her.

"In a case when you have got serious injuries you have to be reasonably satisfied that the injuries have settled before you can settle the claim."

A spokesman for the Chelsea and Westminster NHS Trust apologised to Ms Ash for "shortcomings in her care when she was a patient".

He added: "We sincerely regret the injuries that she sustained as a result of these failings."

"The trust carried out a full review of all relevant procedures in this case to learn from its mistakes and to improve patient care.

"As a direct result, the trust updated its guidelines and provided nurses with additional training on monitoring infection."

Steve Walker, chief executive of the NHS Litigation Authority, said the payout set a new record for compensation following a hospital-acquired infection.

"It's the highest we have ever paid out. It's high because she was earning a lot of money before this happened.

"Most of the value of the award is either past loss of earnings or prospective future loss of earnings."

Peter Walsh, of the group Action against Medical Accidents, said: "Thousands of people are gravely affected or even killed by avoidable hospital acquired infections every year.

"However, the continuing restriction of legal aid means that very few people can afford even to have their case investigated.

"Legal aid should be extended and consideration given to a special compensation scheme for those affected by these infections, to make compensation more accessible to all."



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Leslie Ash on getting a hospital-acquired infection



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