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Afghan war hero, 34, battles NHS for £1.5m

03 Oct 2019 Daily Mail Online

Captain Stuart Croxford, pictured, survived a bomb attack in Afghanistan in 2012 where he suffered severe foot and ankle injuries - although his leg had been saved

A fitness instructor is suing the NHS for £1.5m, claiming he lost his leg due to 'negligent failures' by medics following a yachting accident.

But NHS lawyers claim that Afghanistan war hero turned fitness guru Cpt Stuart Croxford, 34, is better off with only one leg.

The former army captain was left in constant pain from severe foot and ankle injuries in a bomb attack while serving in Afghanistan in 2012.

But he had battled back and learned to walk again when a freak accident in a charity yacht race off the Isle of Wight caused injuries which resulted in the amputation of his right leg.

Cpt Croxford - who now runs a London-based fitness business with his wife - say that but for a needless delay in providing approriate treatment the amputation of his limb would not have been necessary.

But despite admitting to a 'negligent delay' in operating, lawyers for the Isle of Wight NHS Trust claim the former officer is actually better off having lost his leg.

Amputation of the leg was inevitable eventually, due to the lingering effects of his war injury, it is claimed, and he is now free of the worst of the pain of his army injury, NHS lawyers say in documents filed with Central London County Court.

Cpt Croxford, of Fulham, west London, and formerly of the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, was first injured in an IED attack in Afghanistan in December 2012.

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He suffered 'complex lower limb injuries' and was in hospital for months. It was more than 18 months before he could walk without an aid.

The second tragedy struck in August 2014 when, during a charity yacht event for injured servicemen, he was injured when a rope caught around his leg.

He was taken to St Mary's Hospital, in Newport, where he underwent a fracture reduction operation.

However, following the operation, he developed 'compartment syndrome', the dangerous build-up of pressure in the muscle compartments in his leg.

He was operated on and numerous further procedures were performed to remove damaged muscle, but he eventually underwent his below-knee amputation in October 2014.

In its defence to the claim, the NHS accepts that there was a 'negligent failure' to promptly operate to release the pressure in Cpt Croxford's leg.

Following a freak accident on a boat in October 2014, NHS doctors botched surgery on the same leg which then needed to be amputated below the knee. NHS doctors have admitted negligence although deny Cpt Croxford should receive compensation as he has a better quality of life without the injured limb

Had he been operated on when he should have been, he would have avoided the muscle loss and most of the further procedures, and would not have had his amputation in October 2014.

But the Trust claims Cpt Croxford would have eventually lost his leg, even without his yachting accident.

And he now leads a more active life and is in a 'better position' than pre-amputation, say NHS lawyers.

Prior to the yachting injury, he had 'intractable pain', could walk only 750m before resting and struggled to stand for long periods, the NHS says.

However, since losing his leg, he has learned to run on a blade, begun skiing and cycling, taking part in triathlons, and is free of the worst of his pain.

He also started up his Fulham-based fitness business ThreeZero12 with his wife post-amputation.

'His current levels of comfort and function appear significantly improved compared to his pre-index condition,' NHS barrister Aidan O'Brien says in the NHS's defence to the claim.

'He is relieved of his intractable pre-existing pain and is able to lead a more active life. He is therefore in a better functional position than he would have been but for the amputation.'

He adds: 'It is likely that he would have elected to undergo a right below knee amputation at some point after 20 October 2014, in any event, given his pre-existing significant disablement, limitations of function and chronic pain.

'The Trust's breach of duty has therefore merely brought forward his amputation. His currently reported problems are the same as would have occurred following a later elective amputation.'

Outlining the impact of the amputation on Cpt Croxford, his barrister Dr Peter Ellis said the 34-year-old initially suffered with 'severe phantom limb pain' and had to take medication which affected his concentration.

'He suffers from pain and swelling in the stump if he walks too far,' Dr Ellis says in a writ filed at the county court.

'He regularly requires up to seven days resting at home without wearing his prosthesis to recover, at which times he is reliant upon crutches or a wheelchair for mobility.

'He suffers from low back pain. He needs to drive an adapted car. He is unable to perform heavy domestic tasks and DIY, and is unable to work on ladders.

'His mobility is likely to decrease with ageing such that he will become increasingly wheelchair-bound, with consequent increase in his care needs.'

Cpt Croxford's claim is due to go before a judge at Central London County Court on a date to be fixed.

In a short pre-trial hearing, his legal team revealed he is claiming up to £1.5m damages. 

Original Link: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7534633/Afghan-war-hero-34-battles-NHS-1-5m.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490

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