Family's Relief As Approval Hearing Secures Disabled Daughters Future Care

Compensation for hospital error


The family of Stephanie Heanue, an 11 year old girl left in need of lifelong care after a delayed delivery at birth left her severely brain damaged will receive enough money for a life time of care the High Court has ruled.

Stephanie was born at Colchester General Hospital in November 1997 where, despite abnormal data on the electronic foetal monitor and a request from midwives, no review was undertaken by a doctor. Such a review, resulting in a delivery taking place just ten minutes earlier, could have prevented injury.

Stephanie, who lives in Colchester, Essex now suffers from dystonic athetoid tetraplegic cerebral palsy and will need 24hr care and assistance for the rest of her life.

Alison Eddy, a leading medical law and patient's rights specialist at law firm Irwin Mitchell represented the family. She said: "Stephanie's family are delighted by the decision that has been handed down at the High Court today and are understandably relieved that they can now move on with their lives, safe in the knowledge that she will receive carefully managed, annual payments to ensure that she has adequate care for the rest of her life.

"She is truly blessed to have such a loving, caring family around her and, despite her severe brain damage, Stephanie is an active and delightful child who attends mainstream school part time.

"The Heanue family and I hope that lessons can be learnt from this and that adequate changes are implemented to make sure that other families do not have to suffer in the same way."

Andrew Spink QC, representing the Trust at the hearing, apologised to Stephanie's family for the mistakes that had been made. He acknowledged that the Trust's mistakes had 'far reaching and lifelong consequences' for Stephanie and reiterated that the Trust were 'truly sorry'.