Recovering Charitable Hospice Costs

The Recoverability of Damages for the value of Nursing Services provided by a Charitable Hospice.

It is worth remembering that a claimant in a fatal accident claim may be entitled to recover damages for the value of nursing services provided by a charitable hospice, which would be held on trust for the benefit of that hospice. The authority for this is the High Court decision in Drake v. Foster Wheeler Ltd [2010] EWHC 2004 (QB).

Background

In Drake v. Foster Wheeler Ltd, the deceased had received 23 days of in-patient care in a charitable hospice prior to his death from mesothelioma (lung cancer), a condition which he had contracted as a result of exposure to asbestos when he had worked for the defendant in the 1950s.

Entitlement to recover damages

Judge Thornton QC, sitting as a deputy of the High Court, considered there to be no reasonable basis for distinguishing between a charitable hospice providing nursing services and a private individual or family member or friend providing such services, when it came to the recoverability of damages for the provision of care.

Assessment of damages

The costs were calculated on the basis of an average daily cost of in-patient palliative care at the hospice, less the percentage of hospice running costs funded by donor Primary Care Trusts, which calculation was considered reasonable by Judge Thornton QC.

Observations

Recovery of the costs of hospice care in such cases was considered not to give rise to a fear that the ‘floodgates’ would open, and in practice claimants seeking recovery of such costs are rare but should be encouraged.

Charles Cooper, Barrister

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