Youngster Requires Around-The-Clock Care For Rest Of Life
The parents of a young boy diagnosed with cerebral palsy have called for lessons to be learned after lawyers secured a multi-million pound settlement which will fund the specialist lifetime care he requires.
Ollie Lewis was starved of oxygen during his birth when staff at St Michael’s Hospital failed to monitor his heart rate.
Ollie, of Pensford, near Bristol, went on to develop cerebral palsy. The seven-year-old requires one-to-one supervision at all times and has a range of complex needs. He requires a wheelchair, needs to be fed through a tube, is registered blind and has no speech.
His parents, Charmaine Malcolm and Neil Lewis, instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate. University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust admitted liability.
The couple aged 29 and 34 respectively, are now using World Cerebral Palsy Day to speak about the huge impact that the condition has had on their lives and their hopes for Ollie’s future.
It comes after Irwin Mitchell secured a multi-million pound settlement for the family.
Expert Opinion“This is a truly heart-breaking case in which avoidable failings in Ollie’s care have gone on to have a major impact on the lives of a little boy and his family.
“While we are pleased to have secured the family this settlement, which has been carefully calculated based on Ollie’s complex needs, no amount of money can ever make up for the severe and lifelong injuries he has suffered. We hope that the family can now look to the future the best they can.
“It is vital that lessons are learned and there is more awareness of the consequences that birth injuries can lead to so others don’t have to suffer the hurt and pain that Charmaine, Neil and the rest of the family have.” Julie Lewis - Partner
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in supporting children diagnosed with cerebral palsy
Hospital staff did not monitor Charmaine to establish she was in established labour. They also did not check Ollie’s heart rate which had dropped dangerously low. Monitoring would have shown he was in distress and was being starved of oxygen.
When Ollie was delivered in February 2012 his umbilical cord was around his neck. Doctors originally believed he would not survive more than two hours.
Experts state that Ollie, who has a brother, Alfie aged five, and sister Millie, 14 months, will never be able to achieve independence or take up work.
Ollie’s condition has affected almost every aspect of his family’s lives. They have lived in several different rental properties since his birth with each requiring various adaptations. Ollie requires a hoist to move him around certain parts of his home. Furthermore, he often suffers disturbed sleep and his parents require night carers to assist him as and when he wakes up.
Charmaine explained: “Ollie requires an intensive level of support, as ultimately he needs to be looked after on a one-to-one basis at all times. That has an impact on us in so many ways as it means, for example, two people have to take him to school – one person to drive and the other to sit with him.
“Once he’s at school Neil and I tend to tidy up and keep his room clean, as he has a poor immune system and can get unwell very easily. Going out with him can also be a challenge, as we have to ensure we’ve got his medication, clothing, nappies and his feeds.”
Ollie attends the Baytree School in Weston-super-Mare and his parents have heard from teachers how he is making good progress.
Charmaine added: “Ollie loves school and we know how much he enjoys using the sensory room in particular. The teachers have also encouraged him to use switches to interact and communicate and this is really encouraging.
“Another thing he loves is playing with his younger brother Alfie and his little sister Millie, while he likes plenty of noise around him and settles when there is music on too.”
Discussing World Cerebral Palsy Day, Charmaine added that the family felt it was important to put a spotlight on how the condition can affect those who have it and also their loved ones.
She said: “We were in a state of shock when we were told of the issues which occurred during Ollie’s birth and it is difficult to take that things could have been a lot different. Neil in particular took it hard and has struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder in the years since.
“However, our focus now is fundamentally on ensuring that Ollie can get the very best from life and we want reassurances that he will always have access to high quality care and support. He is such a special boy and we are so grateful that he is part of our lives – we simply want the very best for him.”
World Cerebral Palsy Day is on 6 October.