Four years ago, Amanda Robertson died from a brain tumour after being given the all-clear by medics.

The 40-year-old had been plagued with symptoms including extreme headaches, nosebleeds and vomiting, but her headache was diagnosed as being caused by trapped nerves and she was sent home with painkillers.

Now her devastated parents have spoken for the first time of their loss after winning a legal action against NHS Highland.

And they revealed their grief was compounded when it was established that their daughter’s tumour could have been spotted at the time she was given her first CT scan – and if it had, she would have had a 90 per cent chance of survival.

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Caroline Robertson, 71, said: “It’s hard enough dealing with the death of your child, but when it’s caused by the very professionals who are there to help, then it makes it all the worse.”

After four hospital admissions in nine months, a CT scan was performed and Miss Robertson, who was cared for full-time at home due to her autism, was sent away with painkillers, but opportunities to spot the tumour on the scan were missed.

The Robertsons pleaded with staff to carry out an MRI, but it was only agreed to weeks later, when Miss Robertson’s condition took a turn for the worse.
She died at home less than a week before the scheduled appointment, on September 2, 2014 at Raigmore Hospital, Inverness.

Mrs Robertson added: “Amanda would still be alive if staff at Raigmore simply did their job. 

“As far as we’re concerned, NHS Highland killed our daughter and ripped our world apart.

“I was very scared about what was happening to her. She was in a lot of pain and couldn’t get out of bed – my husband and I basically carried her into hospital.

“Seeing her suffer was agonising and left us all in a constant state of fear. Your mind starts going round and round and you don’t know what to think or do.

“We were also in a Catch-22 because the hospital kept letting us down but we had nowhere else to go.”

In December 2013, Miss Robertson told her GP she was suffering from headaches, nosebleeds, balance issues and a suspected lump in the back of her head.

She was referred to an ENT consultant who removed a nasal ulcer in February 2014 and suggested sinus issues were the cause of the headaches.

On July 1, her headaches returned so the same specialist ordered a CT scan. 
A fortnight later, on July 14, she was given the all clear. But the vomiting and headaches continued and when Miss Robertson’s lips turned white on July 30, she was readmitted to Raigmore hospital.

On August 15, a neurologist from NHS Highland examined her and diagnosed occipital nerve neuralgia (trapped neck headache).

She was scheduled to be released three days later.

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But on August 18 she was violently sick and a doctor who witnessed her distress pushed for an MRI scan to be carried out. 

When a date of September 8 was planned, her frantic mother complained it was too long to wait and urged for an earlier appointment to be booked.

But Miss Robertson died at home six days before her scan, with the cause of death confirmed as a tumour on the central nervous system within the brain. 

The family, from Alness, Easter Ross, complained to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, who ruled that “if the tumour had been discovered in July or early August it would have been operable”.

A report said there would have been a 90 per cent chance of recovery from the benign tumour.

NHS Highland was given 11 recommendations to improve patient care and was criticised for its “lack of focus on the failings and ways to improve their services”.

Miss Robertson’s father, Monty, 71, a retired oil rig fabricator, added: “We begged that neurologist for an MRI and he said there was no need – then he just left.

“The hospital had loads of chances and time to act but did nothing. We cannot allow this kind of flippant approach to healthcare to go unchecked.

“Anyone who played a part in Amanda’s death needs to be held to account, at the very least so that standards improve and other families don’t go through what we have. 

“NHS Highland can no longer pretend to care about people – not when they refuse to help then drag innocent people through legal processes.”

Sue Grant, partner at Digby Brown Solicitors and head of clinical negligence, helped secure an undisclosed settlement for the Robertson family. 

She said: “This was a very tragic and traumatic experience for the Robertson family. It would be inappropriate to comment on their case but I can confirm their civil action has now concluded and I hope they may now be able to rebuild their future.”

NHS Highland has been contacted for comment.