Girl Starved Of Oxygen At Birth Awarded Seven-Figure Settlement From NHS Trust

Midwife encouraged mum-to-be to stay at home until she “felt like pushing” leading to delay in care

18.07.2016

Hayley Court, Press Officer | 0114 274 4255

A child, who suffered brain damage during birth will receive a seven-figure settlement after the High Court today [Monday, July 18] approved the sum, which will provide her with the care and rehabilitation she will need for the rest of her life.

The little girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has severe cerebral palsy which affects her mobility and development, she must be fed through a tube and suffers with involuntary muscle spasms after a delay in her delivery at Queen Charlotte Hospital, London.

The family, from Middlesex, instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate their claim against Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust following the birth of the baby at Queen Charlotte’s Hospital in 2011.

Following today’s approval hearing at the High Court, the little girl will receive a seven-figure payment, including annual payments for life, to cover the cost of her on-going care.

The girl’s father said “My wife and I feel incredibly let down by the hospital in which we placed our absolute trust.

“We had no reason to think our daughter would be anything but a healthy, happy baby when she was born, having had an uncomplicated pregnancy and no concerns until the day of her birth.

“While nothing can ever give our daughter the life we hoped for her, this settlement will ensure she can have everything she needs to live as independently as possible as she grows up.”

The girl’s brain was starved of oxygen after a midwife at Queen Charlotte Hospital advised the mother-to-be to go home and return to hospital only when the pain was unbearable, after she had already presented at the birthing unit with contractions on the afternoon of April 8, 2011.

The father of the baby called the hospital on behalf of his wife at 6.20pm, reporting that her contractions had become stronger and more frequent and that she was in pain. But a midwife recommended painkillers and a bath and again told him to return to the hospital when his wife “felt like pushing”.

The midwife, who spoke to the girl’s father on two occasions, has never been identified even though the Trust accepted that the calls were made as evidenced by the father’s mobile phone records.

The couple eventually returned to the hospital at 7.15pm.

Lawyers acting for the family, put to the Trust that the baby should have been delivered much earlier than 7.42pm by which point no heartbeat could be detected.

The little girl was resuscitated, but had been starved of oxygen during the 30 minutes before she was born, causing the significant brain injury which meant she would suffer from severe neurological impairment.

It was accepted by the girl’s lawyers that there would have been some injury to her even if she had been delivered earlier, but her condition would have been mild and her life would have been very different to how it is today.

Expert Opinion
“My client suffered severe brain damage after hospital staff put her mother off from returning to the hospital as contractions grew stronger.

“Because of this, the birth was delayed and my young client was starved of oxygen resulting in life changing brain injury.

"The settlement package will, however, fund my client’s ongoing care and therapy; along with any adaptations she may need to her home, for the rest of her life which will enable her to live as independent a life as possible.

"I hope that lessons are learnt from the terrible and life-changing errors made in this case in order to improve patient safety in the future and stop any other child suffering distressing and avoidable injury.”
Jane Weakley, Associate