Lawyer Urges NHS To Learn Lessons After Mistakes Leave Boy With Lifelong Injuries That Could Have Been Prevented
By Helen MacGregor
The mum of an 11-year-old boy who suffered severe lifelong injuries at birth because of a catalogue of errors made by midwives has spoken of her relief today (24 June) after a High Court Judge approved a lifetime care package to fund his ongoing rehabilitation and future care.
Benjamin Garwood was born in 2002 with Erb’s Palsy, a medical condition caused by damage to the nerves in his arm leaving him paralysed and needing help with basic day-to-day tasks for the rest of his life.
His devoted mum Alison Wicks instructed medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell who secured a full admission of responsibility from The Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust in 2011 which paved the way for the settlement approved by Her Honour Judge Swift at the High Court in London. It will be used to fund specialist therapies, care and cover his future loss of earnings.
The Trust also offered a full apology to the family, who live near Ipswich, which was welcomed by lawyers, who said the Trust also needs to show lessons have been learnt to prevent the same mistakes being made again.
Cynthia Marshall, a medical law and patients’ rights expert from Irwin Mitchell’s London office representing the family said: “Benjamin’s mother is relieved their legal battle is now over and has peace of mind that he is now guaranteed access to the best possible care and rehabilitation throughout his life.
“His mother and siblings have shown tremendous devotion to ensure he has as independent a life as possible, helping him stay in mainstream school and understand why he can’t do certain things that other children can. However, the fact remains as Benjamin gets older and wants more independence he will need specialist help and his injury will restrict the type of work he can do in the future so the settlement awarded reflects that.”
An investigation into the circumstances surrounding Benjamin’s injuries revealed that despite midwives knowing that his shoulder had become stuck during his birth, they did not follow basic procedures that would have prevented his injury and ensured safe his safe delivery.
The Trust admitted that midwives failed to move Alison into the correct position, carry out recommended internal manoeuvres or alert an obstetrician to the situation within a reasonable time.
Instead, Benjamin was not breathing when he was born and his arm was limp. Later doctors diagnosed him with Erbs Palsy, a condition that results in restricted movement of the affected arm which in turn affects the sufferer’s ability to carry out many basic day to day tasks.
Alison, Ben’s mother and full-time carer, said: “Benjamin, in many ways, is a normal little boy. He attends the local school, plays computer games and has a keen interest in woodwork (although he is limited in terms of what he can do with both arms). But unlike other eleven-year-olds he struggles to do many things that most kids take for granted
“To know that his injuries could and should have been prevented continues to be difficult to come to terms with. I only hope that lessons will now be learnt from what happened to us and my son to ensure that no other families ever have to suffer in the same way.”
Cynthia Marshall from Irwin Mitchell added: “Our cases often highlight serious procedural failings from which vital lessons must be learnt to prevent the same mistakes being made again.
“Time after time we are contacted for help by families whose children’s lives have been turned upside down as a result of wholly preventable errors. And this is yet another example of a patient becoming a victim of a serious injury through no fault of their own.
“Safety for mother and baby should be at the forefront of every practitioner’s mind when dealing with obstetric emergencies, and the onus is on them to keep up-to-date with current practice.
“We hope that any lessons that can be learnt are shared across the country to ensure that no other children or their families have to go through the same ordeal.”
If your child suffered Erb’s Palsy due to negligence at birth, our lawyers could help you claim compensation . Call 0808 163 4557 for a free consultation, visit our Erb's Palsy Claims page, or our medical negligence claims page for more details.