Jaundice brain damage case highlights need for duty of candour 

Press release

17 January 2014 

Lawyers acting for a boy who suffered catastrophic brain damage due to appalling failures at Lewisham Hospital have said his case highlights why the duty of candour for NHS workers due to come into force this year is so vital. 

Nashae Prendegast-Coote, now five, was born healthy but sustained serious and permanent brain damage while under the care of the maternity unit at Lewisham Hospital. Since his birth the hospital has denied that any mistakes were made but has now made a full admission of negligence and apologised to the family. 

Nashae, of Deptford, London, has cerebral palsy, is deaf and will be dependent on others for the rest of his life after suffering a form of brain damage called kernicterus, which is caused by severe jaundice. He cannot stand or walk and has to be fed via a feeding tube. 

However if simple steps to treat Nashae’s spiralling jaundice had been taken his brain would not have been damaged and he would have made a full recovery.  

Nashae’s grandmother and carer Marja Powell was devastated to learn of Nashae’s brain damage as she had serious concerns about the care provided to him while he was in hospital after his birth. After the trust refused to accept any wrongdoing Marja instructed specialist brain injury team at law firm JMW who investigated and found worrying errors. 

After denying any mistakes had been made since Nashae’s birth the trust has now admitted that a failure to properly monitor and treat him caused his brain damage and has apologised for the failings. 

Marja, a 53-year-old recruitment consultant, commented: “Since Nashae was born life has been a constant struggle. We have not only been fighting to ensure Nashae is properly taken care of, but also fighting the trust to get them to acknowledge the mistakes that were made.

“There are many challenges ahead but to have finally won this battle with the trust is a huge relief. I feel justified and I dearly hope that now the hospital has admitted its failings it means that safeguards will be put in place to protect other children from having their lives devastated the way Nashae’s has.”

Angharad Hughes, a specialist brain injury solicitor at JMW, is representing Nashae in his legal battle. She commented: “Nashae’s brain damage has completely devastated his life so it is very concerning that the trust denied these failings for so long and compounded an already very distressing situation for his family. Nashae’s disabilities are severe and he requires specialist care, equipment and accommodation to be able to cope with them so it is very sad that the trust has sought to drag out his case unnecessarily.

“Nahsae’s case is a perfect example of why the duty of candour for the NHS, which is due to come into force next year, is so vital. Patients and families need to trust that the healthcare professionals they come into contact with will be open and honest and that mistakes that lead to avoidable patient injury will be admitted at the earliest opportunity.”

Nashae was born a little prematurely but in a good condition on Saturday 14 June 2008 at Lewisham Hospital. The next day Nashae was treated for jaundice however days later it returned more severely.

Despite Marja alerting nurses to Nashae’s deteriorating condition, regular and vital checks of his bilirubin levels – the substance that causes yellowing of the skin and eyeballs - were not done.

When tests were eventually carried out they revealed his bilirubin levels were so high he required a blood transfusion. However by this point it was too late to save Nashae from suffering permanent and devastating brain damage. Nashae’s illness spiralled to the point that he was fitting and arching his back – signs that his brain was being affected and he was later diagnosed with kernicterus. 




For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Kelly Hindle on the details below:

Kelly Hindle

D. 0161 828 1868

E. Kelly.hindle@jmw.co.uk 

Note to Editors

JMW Solicitors LLP is a leading Manchester law firm and offers a broad range of legal services to both commercial and private clients.JMW’s Clinical Negligence team is headed up by leading clinical negligence lawyer, Eddie Jones. 



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