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We never wanted another family to suffer like us - Mum Margaret Aitken; JUSTICE AT LAST FOR TRAGIC NIKKI.

Byline: MARION SCOTT

THE mother of a teenager who died after waiting more than half an hour for an ambulance has accepted a five-figure compensation payout.

Margaret Aitken hailed the result as a victory that established in law that emergency services have a duty of care, which she hopes will prevent any other families going through a similar ordeal.

After her daughter Nikki, 15, suffered an epileptic seizure at home, it took 52 minutes from her brother calling 999 until she was admitted to a hospital less than a mile away.

Yet ambulance crews were sitting idle at Rangers' Ibrox stadium just a few streets streets away.

Yesterday, Margaret confirmed she had settled her case against the Scottish Ambulance Service, more than two years after she was given permission to sue for pounds 50,000.

She said: "This case has never been about money. It was always about establishing the principle that emergency services have a duty of care. "None of this will bring my daughter back but I know she would've wanted me to fight to ensure no other family endure the loss we've had over Nikki's senseless death. Our bittersweet victory will now offer protection to others in need of help.

"Perhaps it will bring an end to cases such as Mandy Mathieson, from Tomintoul, Moray, who was left to die last November after ambulance driver Owen McLauchlan refused to respond as he was on a teabreak.

"It could also mean an end to cases such as tragic lawyer Alison Hume, who died three years ago in Galston, Ayrshire, when she fell down a hole and firemen refused to go down because they hadn't been trained."

Nikki, of Glasgow's Govan, suffered an seizure in November 2003. Instead of an ambulance, a rapid-response unit incapable of taking her to hospital was sent.

Yet three empty ambulances sat yards away, waiting for a football match to start at Ibrox.

By the time Nikki, who had a history of epilepsy, arrived at the Southern General, she was dying.

Within hours, doctors said there was nothing they could do.

Margaret's lawyer Cameron Fyfe said: "An out-of-court settlement has been accepted for almost the amount claimed for but much of the award will go to cover legal costs.

"However, this is a legal first for Scotland. The case has established a principle. The ambulance service will now have to accept they do have a duty of care."

Margaret, 45, added: "I can't celebrate because I don't have my daughter. I hope politicians will now take the matter to the Scottish Parliament with a view to examining whether it's possible to impose legal response times."

At the Court of Session last month, Lord Mackay rejected an argument by ambulance chiefs that they had no duty of care towards Nikki until they arrived at her house under common law applying to all emergency services.

SUNDAY EMAIL m.scott@sundaymail.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

Tragic: Margaret, above with Nikki, and Mandy Mathieson, above right, who died while an ambulance driver was on a tea break
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 17, 2011
Words:509
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