Justice For Family After Hospital Admits Errors

‘Learn lessons’ family pleads after critical delays in labour led to baby’s devastating injuries

07.06.2011

07/06/2011

The family of a young boy whose life was devastated when medical staff failed to take steps that could have prevented his injuries have won their battle for justice, and received an apology in Court today.

In February 2006 mum Nicola experienced ongoing, excruciating pain and bleeding whilst in labour with her second child but, despite notifying staff of these symptoms, medical staff took more than an hour before they carried out a caesarean section during which time her baby had been starved of oxygen. 

An investigation into the worrying delay found that Nicola had in fact suffered a ruptured uterus and that the Trust had failed to act in accordance with their own guidelines, to arrange for “immediate” delivery, and Alexander Ricket, now 5, was born with cerebral palsy.

The family’s lawyer, medical law and patient’s rights lawyer Anita Jewitt from law firm Irwin Mitchell said that his condition is so severe he will never be able to live independently, and relies heavily on his loved ones for his 24hr care, which he will need for the rest of his life. 

The hospital has now admitted that Alexander should have been delivered earlier, although they denied that earlier delivery would have made a difference to Alexander’s condition.  Shortly before trial, however, the hospital agreed to settle Alexander’s claim.

Today the family said they were ‘extremely relieved’ after a High Court Judge approved the agreement; paving the way for a future settlement which will provide for his care needs. And Irwin Mitchell will now investigate how much money Alexander should receive by way of compensation.

Ms Jewitt said: “Following a difficult legal battle Mr and Mrs Ricket are delighted that, after more than five years, they now know that Alexander will have sufficient compensation to meet his significant future needs.

“We will now work with the Trust in order to ensure Alexander has access to the funds he needs to live as comfortable and normal a life as possible in spite of his injuries. We hope this will be done as quickly as possible so that the family can finally begin to move forward with their lives.”

Mum Nicola, 42, and Dad Graham, 45, from New Malden, Surrey hope that lessons will be learnt. Nicola said: “Our lives have been turned upside down by the actions of the medical staff.

“I was in constant agony around the area of my previous caesarean section scar, and I was bleeding but they just let me carry on as normal for far too long.

“Alexander is severely disabled and does not have any verbal communication skills; he will need 24hr care for the rest of his life and recently has started to suffer from seizures. It is essential that lessons are learnt so that no one else should suffer as we have.

“There is no way we could have bought this claim for Alexander without the support of legal aid and we are extremely concerned about the Government’s proposal to remove cases like this from the legal aid system. Quite simply, it would prevent other families in a similar position to ours being able to pursue a claim.

“We welcome the apology delivered by the hospital’s lawyers in court today and only hope now that the Trust acts fast to make sure my son’s care needs are provided for so that we can finally look to move forward with our lives.”

* Kingston Hospital NHS Trust agreed to settle the issue of liability at 92.5% in May this year, approved by a Judge at the High Court in London today.