£8 Million Payout As Hospital Admits Mistakes During Boy’s Birth Caused Brain Injury

Settlement Will Help Fund A Lifetime Of Special Care

04.04.2011

The parents of a twelve-year-old Staffordshire boy, who has been left severely disabled as a result of errors made by medical staff during his birth, have spoken out for the first time about their legal battle to secure a lifetime of care for their son which has resulted in Nathan being awarded an £8 million financial package.

Beverley and Stephen Humphries from Kidsgrove near Stoke on Trent have revealed details of their fight to secure a settlement for their son’s care needs, at the start of National Birth Trauma Awareness Week (4th to 10th April) organised by national charity, the Birth Trauma Association (BTA).

Nathan Humphries has cerebral palsy after he was deprived of oxygen during his birth at the University Hospital, Stoke on 27th April 1998. As a result, Nathan now has a permanent brain injury which means he has very impaired movement and speech.

Kim Metcalf, a medical law expert with the Manchester office of Irwin Mitchell solicitors, who represents the family, said the financial settlement should not be viewed as a ‘lottery win’ but would be used to fund a lifetime of care which Nathan will need.

The settlement, which includes a lump sum payment of just over £3 million and thereafter annual payments to allow Nathan to purchase the care and other special equipment that he requires for the rest of his life, was approved in the High Court, Manchester.

The University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust had previously admitted liability for the errors and accepted that medical staff were at fault in not checking Mrs Humphries’ blood pressure during labour and also failing to carry out a continuous CTG trace, which would have indicated that Nathan was in distress. As a result of the hospital’s failings Nathan sustained brain damage at birth due to being starved of oxygen.

Independent medical experts found that if Nathan had been born just a few minutes earlier this would have resulted in him being born without brain damage.

Nathan’s birth injury means he has been left with cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia.

Nathan’s Mum, Beverley Humphries commented: “I am relieved that the settlement will mean that Nathan can be cared for in the way he needs, for the rest of his life.  I still feel angry that simple mistakes, which should never have happened, have led to him suffering a serious life long disability. If I’d received better care he would not have been born with the problems that limit so much of what he is able to do.”

Beverley and her husband, Stephen, plan to use part of the settlement to buy a house which can be suitably adapted for their son’s needs.

She continued: “Nathan is a wonderful boy and he is loved very much by all who know him. However the fact remains that he will never be able to do the things that other boys his age take for granted such as playing sports or computer games. Sadly he will never grow up to have an independent life and will always be reliant upon people to help him with the most basic of tasks.”

Kim Metcalf said: “The settlement reflects the fact that Nathan has a long life expectancy and will require adequate funds to purchase the significant care that he will require for many years.

“Although no amount of money can turn back the clock and give Nathan the normal life that he would otherwise have had, the settlement will provide both financial security for Nathan and also peace of mind for Beverley and Stephen that their son will have the proper care he needs for the rest of his life.

“Beverley and Stephen also hope that the Trust has learned lessons and that the basic midwifery errors that occurred during Nathan’s birth are not allowed to be repeated.

“As part of National Birth Trauma Awareness Week they are keen to ensure that other parents, who may find themselves in a similar situation, ask questions to discover whether conditions which result from a difficult birth could, in fact, have been prevented.”