NHS Trust Agrees Multi-Million Pounds Settlement
By Helen MacGregor
The parents of a young girl who suffered brain damage following complications during her delivery have spoken of their relief, after a High Court judge today (13 September) approved a multi-million pound lifetime care and rehabilitation package.
Ruby Curtis, who is eight, suffers from cerebral palsy, caused by staff failures during her birth at St James Hospital in Leeds in 2005.
Her parents, Lisa and Steve from Garforth in Leeds, instructed medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell to help gain access to the funds Ruby needs for care and rehabilitation as well as the equipment and technology Ruby requires to live as independent a life as possible.
Irwin Mitchell worked with Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust to agree the settlement approved by Leeds District Registry today, which will help give Ruby the best quality of life possible.
It is broken down as a £2.95m lump sum, with annual payments to provide care and equipment, case management, therapy and support at school and will be managed by Irwin Mitchell’s in-house Court of Protection team.
Rachelle Mahapatra, a Partner and medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office representing the family, said: “The challenge in Ruby’s case was ensuring that we are able to provide her with as much independence as possible in her life. This includes having full-time professional carers so that Mum and Dad can be just that, and so that one day she can go to university and live as full a life as possible.
“The Hospital admitted majority responsibility which paved the way for the settlement approved today.
“Ruby’s family have shown tremendous devotion and support to help her achieve the best quality of life possible over the last eight years, but the fact remains that her brain injury is so severe she needs specialist help from professionals and the settlement will now provide exactly that.”
Mum Lisa was admitted to St James Hospital on 28 August 2005 where staff gave her a drug to bring on contractions. Her uterus ruptured and there was a failure to recognise that this serious complication had occurred. Therefore they were slow to act to deliver Ruby as a result Ruby was starved of oxygen, causing the irreparable brain damage.
Ruby now has athetoid cerebral palsy, affecting all four limbs, head and trunk, with fluctuating muscle tone and some involuntary movements. This affects the execution of her motor skills, therefore she requires help with all aspects of daily living including personal care, feeding, play, and education. Ruby can make vocal sounds but has no clear speech. All of these issues are permanent effects of the birth trauma.
Despite the significant physical disabilities, Ruby is very bright and is excellent at using technology - she uses her eyes to operate her communication aid and computing and drives an electric powered wheelchair. She learns quickly and is thriving at the specialist Percy Hedley School in Newcastle.
Ruby's Mother Lisa, 40, who gave up work to care for her daughter, speaks out at the end of their successful eight year battle for justice: "Ruby is a fantastic little girl and we are so proud of her, she is such an inspiration to us both. While it's heart-breaking to see her unable to do so many of the things the majority of other children take for granted, we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect daughter.
“We want Ruby to experience as much as she can in life and we help her as best we can. While it is tragic to think that all of this came as a result of mistakes made in her delivery that were avoidable, our focus is on making sure Ruby has the best life possible.
“Ruby loves the same things as most other eight year old girls such as One Direction, Disney Princesses and shopping and she likes to get involved in as many activities as possible. She enjoys playing powerchair football, going swimming and to the cinema and she has recently joined Brownies near her school in Newcastle.
Ruby's Father Steve, 41, added “She joined the Percy Hedley School, which specialises in working with children with cerebral palsy, last year and we are really pleased with the holistic approach they take to therapy and education. It is so much better for Ruby than the mainstream school in Leeds that Ruby previously attended and it is fantastic to see her thrive in her new school.
“Her confidence and self-esteem have improved significantly and working with her specialist one-on-one support is allowing her to flourish in education terms as well.
“The settlement awarded today means Ruby can now continue to attend this fabulous school as it well help fund her fees, accommodation in Newcastle and one-on-one support.
“Ruby’s condition affects every aspect of her life and she needs round the clock assistance to meet her needs. The settlement approved today gives us peace of mind that she will have the funds to pay for the care, support, therapy and specialist equipment and technology that she needs to maximise her independence and help her reach her full potential for the rest of her life.”
Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise relating to birth injury claims