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Damages awarded for midwifery errors during birth at Northern Devon District Hostpital NHS Foundation Trust

Posted on 11th February 2020 in Medical Negligence

Posted by

Clair Hemming

Partner and Solicitor
Damages awarded for midwifery errors during birth at Northern Devon District Hostpital NHS Foundation Trust

The parents of a teenage girl who suffered brain damage as a result of the negligent management of her birth at North Devon District Hospital, yesterday attended the Royal Courts of Justice in London to conclude the legal claim for compensation against the NHS.

The girl was born at North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple in 2005.  During the latter stages of her mother’s labour, the midwifery staff failed to appreciate signs that the baby was in distress, and to act accordingly by calling for urgent medical help to expedite the delivery. By the time the baby girl was born she had been deprived of oxygen (hypoxia) causing severe brain damage.   The parents instructed Tozers solicitors who, having investigated the circumstances of her birth, put formal allegations to the Trust who then admitted negligence in 2014. Since then her lawyers, Clair Hemming and Michelle Beckett have undertaken the complex task of investigating the extent of her disabilities and assessing her lifelong needs in order to secure sufficient compensation to pay for such.

The girl suffers from cerebral palsy, and has wide ranging, physical and mental disabilities which will require life long, round the clock support to enable her to live as normal and fulfilling life as is possible.

Following negotiations between the lawyers for the Trust and the Claimant’s legal team an agreement was reached with the Trust earlier this year whereby a 7 figure lump sum would be paid in damages together with index linked annual payments over her lifetime.   As is necessary in any legal claim involving a child, the settlement required the approval of the Court and this was given at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on 10 February 2020, by the Honourable Mr Justice Johnson.

The girl’s father said:

“We are hugely relieved that our daughter will now have the resources to afford the proper care and help she needs to fulfil her potential, long after we are gone.
Our first child's birth was needlessly traumatic, leading us to make a complaint, and for which we received an apology and reassurance that things would change. Sadly, with the severe injury to another child, we realise that the only way to bring pressure to bear on an NHS trust is through litigation and the resulting financial pressure.

We sincerely hope that awards of this magnitude shine a light on failing systems, and may somehow prevent parents being faced with the choice between a life of poverty, pain and misery for their injured child, and making a claim for compensation. There must somewhere be a middle way, where instead of cover up and blame, the prompt and open investigation of mistakes allows the health service to learn from and avoid the repeated injuries which continue to blight the lives of innocent families.”

Tozers LLP specialise in clinical negligence claims particuarly high value and complex neurological injury claims involving children. Our lawyers are accredited with the Law Society's Clinical Negligence Panel and ranked in Chambers & Partners UK and the Legal 500.

This story has also been reported on by Devon Live

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