Parents’ Relief After Hospital Trust Admits Birth Mistakes

Lawyers Investigating Clinical Negligence Claim

20.11.2009

The parents of a three-year-old boy with severe cerebral palsy have spoken of their relief after NHS bosses admitted responsibility for mistakes made during his birth.

Toby Hart’s pulse slowed down drastically during his birth at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton on 11th October, 2006.  Medical staff failed to spot that he was in distress and as a result, Toby was born 25 minutes later than he should have been, leaving him starved of oxygen and permanently brain damaged.

Owing to these mistakes, Toby has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and barely any movement in his limbs – he is totally dependent on round-the-clock care from his parents, Michelle and Matthew Hart.

The couple, from Bedale, North Yorkshire, have instructed specialist clinical negligence lawyer Angela Kirtley from Irwin Mitchell to investigate a claim against South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, in a bid to secure long-term care and provision for Toby.

They now hope the end of their legal battle is in sight after Mrs Kirtley secured an admission of liability from the Trust – they can now focus on valuing the claim, which will enable them to provide all the specialist equipment and healthcare Toby needs.

Mrs Kirtley said: “The past three years have been very difficult for the Harts not only coming to terms with having an extremely disabled baby but also having to negotiate their way around the difficulties of dealing with agencies who provide the care and assistance that he requires.

“We will now be able to work with the solicitors acting on behalf of the Trust to ensure that Toby’s future needs are met in full.  The admission of liability has made a huge difference to the Harts and has taken away the additional stress of knowing whether or not they might have to fight to prove that the Trust has made mistakes.”

Michelle Hart said she was relieved about the admission of liability, but said the past three years had been incredibly frustrating for her whole family.

“We are so relieved that the hospital trust has finally agreed to take responsibility for Toby’s disabilities.  The last three years have been a massive struggle, not only learning how to deal with Toby’s difficulties but also having to go back to hospital with Toby on numerous occasions not knowing whether or not the Trust would ever accept that it was at fault,” she added.

“Looking after Toby is so labour-intensive that we don’t have time to fight for absolutely every single crumb of support that we can get our hands on. We have struggled to get funding for certain specialist items from Social Services, whose resources are limited, although they now provide overnight care one night a week for Toby.

“Although he is extremely placid during the day, he becomes unsettled at night-time and it is not unusual for him to cry for up to three hours at a time.

“Toby is able to take food orally although his feeding takes a long time as he is prone to choking. Up until very recently, the only way he could be fed was if he sat on our knees, but he is getting very big and heavy now so this is getting harder to do. We identified a chair that met his needs – that would support him as we fed him – but it took months of wading through the complex application process before the chair arrived.

“Now we can look forward to the future and start to plan how we will deal with Toby’s increasing needs. This should prove to be a huge weight off our minds and hopefully our days of fighting through red tape will soon be behind us.”