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£21m settlement after birth brain injury

Child lives with severe Cerebral Palsy and needs 2:1 care after oxygen deprivation

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A settlement of over £21million has been secured from a NHS Health Trust for a child who sustained a serious brain injury at birth due to failings by medical professionals.

The child was delivered by emergency caesarean section in 2015 following uterine rupture, meaning that he was in the abdominal cavity before delivery. As a result, he experienced oxygen deprivation, and was diagnosed with severe Cerebral Palsy.

As a result of his injuries, he has severe neuro disabilities and is unable to sit, roll, stand or walk unaided and has a profound learning disability which means he has difficulties accessing and making sense of new information and settings, and does not have functional speech. 

He requires assistance with all his needs and activities of daily living.

The child’s family instructed Leigh Day’s medical negligence team to bring a legal claim against the hospital to help secure a settlement to ensure that his substantial needs were met for the remainder of his life.

Following a liability trial in 2020, the court determined that the care provided to the child’s mother during labour fell below a reasonable standard of care and he sustained brain injury as a result. 

The court agreed that the mother should have been advised about continuous foetal monitoring during labour and, had she been properly advised, she would have accepted this instead of intermittent listening of the baby’s heartbeat. 

This would have allowed clinicians to detect a foetal heart abnormality and the uterine rupture earlier, and the delivery would have been accelerated. If the baby had been delivered earlier, he would have experienced a shorter period of oxygen deprivation. 

An attempt by the NHS Health Trust to appeal this decision was rejected by the Court of Appeal.

As a result of his disabilities, the child is at high risk of suffering a life-threatening complication that would require immediate medical intervention, so the experts agreed that he will always require two adults to care for him 24 hours a day.

It was essential to the child’s family that a package of nursing care was in place, to ensure that he is safe whilst maximising his quality of life, including allowing him to spend time with his parents and play with his two sisters.

In January 2023, a settlement was agreed and the family was awarded a lump sum payment of £7million and annual payments of £700,000 to fund his complex care regime, including a 24-hour 2:1 package of care with full-time nursing care.

Despina Kavadas, a partner in the medical negligence team, who was instructed by the family said: “This was a hard-fought battle ending in an exceptionally good result and one of the largest annual payments ever awarded. 

“I am very pleased to have secured this settlement for our client and his parents who have shown nothing but exemplary strength throughout the litigation process.”

Megan George, an associate solicitor assisting Despina, said: “It was a privilege to help secure this outcome for our client and I hope the settlement allows the family to continue to provide the client with the best possible care and support going forwards.”

Despina instructed Angus Moon KC and Eleanor Morrison, of Serjeants’ Inn Chambers.

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