Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Teenager severely disabled at birth wins record £1.5m payout from trust

A teenager left profoundly disabled as a result of injuries suffered during a botched birth in a Belfast hospital has been awarded a record settlement of almost £1.5m.

The baby boy was left with a severe brain injury after an artificial induction of labour went wrong at the unidentified hospital.

Now a teenager, he has received a record out-of-court settlement of £1.46m from the health trust responsible – plus a substantial annual payment to fund his continuing care.

The trust, which has also not been identified, recently admitted clinical negligence before the compensation package was approved by the High Court in Belfast.

The teenager's solicitor Emma Irwin, of Belfast law firm Hewitt and Gilpin, said he was born following artificial induction of labour which went wrong and resulted in severe brain injury.

He now suffers from quadriplegic cerebral palsy, which affects all of his limbs.

Ms Irwin said the boy's mother was admitted to the maternity hospital at full term of pregnancy and without complication.

But, she said, medical evidence showed the mum was then subjected to prolonged and excessive stimulation during induction of labour.

"Our case was that earlier delivery of the baby would have avoided the development of cerebral palsy and other significant medical complications," said the solicitor. "Our medical opinion also suggested that closer monitoring of the foetal heart rate would have assisted the clinicians in detecting the hypoxia which ultimately led to the baby's brain injury."

The solicitor said the money would enable the family to pay for the 24-hour care their boy needs.

"We are relieved for the family that this money has been secured as their son requires highly specialised care and expensive equipment 24 hours a day for the rest of his life," she said.

"It is a tragedy which the family has been coping with in a positive, upbeat and dignified manner. But we should never underestimate the huge challenges faced by households with responsibility for a severely disabled member of the family. They are often, as in this case, left to their own devices when it comes to services such as physiotherapy and other necessary treatments which are not always made available through the NHS."

Ms Irwin said details of the action have been kept anonymous to protect the confidentiality of the parties concerned.

Speaking through the solicitor, however, the teenager's family said they are relieved that the money needed to care for him has now been secured.

"The compensation money will allow us to move to a more wheelchair-friendly house and access the therapies our boy needs," a statement said.

"We will be able to purchase a specialised hydrotherapy bath and also pay for carers to assist us with his complex care needs. This settlement will help us to achieve a better quality of life for our son and help him reach his full potential. Although the birth went tragically wrong, our son is a joy... and even with very severe disabilities, has an amazing spirit and personality which has kept us going throughout."

Quotes

"This settlement will help us to achieve a better quality of life for our son and help him reach his full potential. Although the birth went tragically wrong, our son is a joy and pleasure to be around, and even with very severe disabilities, has an amazing spirit and personality which has kept us going throughout."

Statement from the family of the teenage boy left disabled at birth.

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