Lancashire Mum Relieved Brain Damaged Daughter Receives Life-Time Of Care

Compensation For Clinical Negligence


A teenager from Ramsbottom has been awarded a seven-figure settlement  after NHS blunders left her brain damaged.

Charlotte Gillespie, now, 13, received the settlement from Bury Health Care NHS Trust after catastrophic errors were made during her delivery in April 1996.

Charlotte now suffers from cerebral palsy, epilepsy, obsessive compulsive disorder and has problems walking.

“It has been a long struggle for justice,” said mum Marilyn, to whom the Trust has also made a full apology. She added:  “We can now provide her with all the medical care she needs for the rest of her life.”

The family’s legal representative, Francesca Dowse, from clinical negligence law firm Irwin Mitchell, said today: “Systematic errors made by midwifery staff at Fairfield General Hospital during Marilyn’s labour resulted in life-debilitating injuries for my client.

Marilyn, 54, was admitted to the maternity unit at Fairfield General Hospital, Bury, on 17th April 1996.  She was 10 days past her due date so had to be induced.

Marilyn re-calls events from the evening:  “I was induced at 4.30pm - the contractions started to come on very quickly, and I kept calling the nurses to say that I thought I was going into labour. I was crawling on all fours on the bed in pain.  I felt like I was ignored for hours.

“I was so distressed at the time. I was bleeding and the contractions were acute and I had to walk to theatre. I had a drip in one hand and my handbag in another and was struggling to stand up straight. 

“Charlotte was my first pregnancy so it was all new to me, but I recognised the way I was being treated was wrong.”

After just under two hours in the delivery room, at 11.45pm Charlotte was born weighing 5lb and 13oz. Marilyn again; “She was taken away immediately. I knew things were not right, the doctors and nurses looked distressed.”

“The paediatrician on duty came to see me later that night and explained that Charlotte was very poorly and was in an incubator. The medical team were not sure that she would make it, she had been starved of oxygen during the delivery and was fighting for her life.”

Charlotte was baptised at just three-days-old in hospital. Her lungs had collapsed and Marilyn and doctors were convinced that she would not survive. Charlotte spent two weeks in the Intensive Care Unit and during this time had to undergo a number of X-Rays and tests.

Medics at Fairfield General diagnosed Charlotte with cerebral palsy as a result of oxygen starvation and told Marilyn that they didn’t believe Charlotte would ever be able to walk and that she would be severely disabled for the rest of her life.

Today, Marilyn is still Charlotte’s full time carer. Charlotte has learnt to walk and does so in the house but needs a buggy when she goes outside. She enjoys drama and musicals and loves boy band Blue. Her pet cats Twinkle and Angel are her life line.

Marilyn hopes that Charlotte will go to special needs school, Elmsbank in Whitefield next term.  She said: “I am so proud of Charlotte. She is a little fighter and has tremendous strength of character and determination. I am glad that the legal case is over. The settlement safe guards Charlotte’s future.”

“I will never forgive the staff at the hospital for what happened that night. Charlotte was let down by the NHS – I am keen to raise awareness of what happened to me so that other people don’t have to go through the trauma that I did.”

Francesca Dowse added: “Both Marilyn and Charlotte were victims that night. The staff should have reacted quicker to Marilyn’s calls for help and Charlotte should have been delivered quicker and if necessary by C-Section.

She continued: “Patient safety needs to be the priority for everyone in the NHS.  The settlement agreed will provide Charlotte with a lifetime of care – however she was robbed of a normal life – the errors were avoidable.”