Teenager wins £5m pay-out for brain damage at birth

St Luke's Hospital, Bradford

St Luke's Hospital, Bradford

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , Ilkley/Otley Reporter

A woman left with irreversible brain damage after a catalogue of errors at her birth has been awarded £5.5million compensation following an 18-year battle for justice.

The girl was starved of oxygen in the days leading up to her birth at St Luke’s Hospital in Bradford in 1994.

She was left suffering with cerebral palsy, problems with speaking and hearing, severe learning difficulties and epilepsy. Her disabilities mean she is entirely dependent on her family and carers.

The female, who wishes to remain anonymous, has been awarded a lump sum of £2.2m and will receive annual payments totalling £3.3m to cover her care and other special needs, such as adapting her home, for the rest of her life.

Her mother, who also has other children, contacted Morrish Solicitors four years ago to pursue a claim for medical negligence against the hospital trust, following failure to progress the case by previous solicitors she had instructed and the hospital fighting against liability.

Morrish Solicitors argued there were significant delays in the mother’s medical review and adequate care was not provided leading up to her daughter’s birth.

Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which manages St Luke’s Hospital, finally admitted liability in March 2011 following protracted negotiations and a settlement was agreed prior to a trial.

A recent hearing approved the agreed settlement for the family and the sum awarded reflects the level of care she will need for the rest of her life.

Her mother said: “This has been a long hard fight to secure justice for my daughter. The last 18 years have taken their toll and been extremely stressful not only on myself, but the whole family, but I hope that we can now get the care and equipment that she needs to provide her with a better life.”

Jane McBennett, of Morrish Solicitors, who acted on behalf of the family said: “The mother has had a hard fight to get justice for her daughter.

“The hospital trust and their solicitors denied liability throughout this case. Her daughter would have been left with nothing had her mother not decided to fight on. This settlement means that she will be looked after financially for the rest of her life.

“To avoid any other family having to go through what this family have, we hope that this settlement will mean that hospitals ensure full past obstetric notes are adequately reviewed when a pregnant woman is seen in hospital, and appropriate plans are made for their treatment and delivery of the baby. It is necessary to show not just that the hospital staff made a mistake, but that they did something no competent member of staff would do. In addition, it must be possible to say that this was what caused the patient’s problems.

“Sadly it was only through lengthy and difficult negotiations that the daughter’s long terms needs could be assessed and the cost of them calculated. Poor medical procedures should be fully investigated and hopefully lessons will be learned to improve NHS standards of care prior to and during labour and the delivery of babies.”

Jane added: “At a time when the climate has never been more hostile to victims of negligence seeking redress it is important to remember that these are ordinary people up against powerful institutions and that this is not about getting rich; it is about compensating an individual for injuries that should never have happened.”

The mother, who received legal aid to help fight her medical negligence claim, expressed her concern about potential cuts to funding.

She said “My daughter is one of the fortunate cases to be supported by legal aid, but without the current legal aid system, we would not have been able to offer my daughter the support and assistance she deserves.”

A Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said: “Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is pleased that an agreed settlement has today been approved by the court in this case in which court proceedings began in 2009.

“The Trust would like to take this opportunity to wish the patient and her family well for the future.”

The compensation will be paid by the NHS Litigation Authority which covers all hospitals.

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