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Teenager who suffered severe brain damage at birth awarded £12 million compensation package
A teenage girl who suffered a severe brain injury at birth due to appalling maternity failure that caused her to be starved of oxygen has been awarded a £12 million care package.
Although the 17-year-old, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, is bright and keen to be independent, she has cerebral palsy and is physically disabled due to mistakes at the Princess Royal Hospital, West Sussex in 2002.
The compensation awarded has been carefully negotiated by her legal team at JMW Solicitors to ensure she can cope with the long-term financial consequences of the avoidable brain damage she suffered.
The teenager requires a wheelchair out of the house and help with many aspects of daily living such as dressing so will need support from specialist carers for the rest of her life. She also requires a specially adapted house to safely manage her disabilities, an adapted car and various therapies and technologies.
She is in mainstream school completing A Levels and plans to go to university but her career opportunities have been hindered because of her disabilities and speech problems due to her cerebral palsy.
Angharad Hughes, a partner specialising in brain injuries at JMW Solicitors, is representing the girl. She commented: “This young woman would have been born perfectly healthy and without any of the disabilities she now has if a catalogue of errors were not made during her mother’s labour. Hers is one of countless cases we have dealt with where signs the baby was in distress were not acted on and delivery was delayed with extremely tragic outcomes. We are still seeing the same mistakes being made and sadly lessons are not being learned.
“This young woman will live with the consequences of this poor care for the rest of her life but what is remarkable about her is the courage she shows when coping with the challenges she faces. She is extremely bright and determined, which means she can still achieve a lot and this compensation will help her to do so. I am delighted that her case has now settled which will provide her and her family with some closure and enable them to focus on ensuring she has the best possible quality of life.”
Both doctors and midwives failed to monitor the girl adequately in the womb despite there being risk factors with her delivery. This meant that signs that she was in distress were not picked up on. At points during the delivery it was recorded that the heart rate was normal even though a reading had not been obtained by the CTG trace. At other times signs of distress were present on the CTG but these were not interpreted correctly by midwives so there were delays in calling for a doctor to attend.
When severe signs of distress were eventually picked up on and a doctor called urgently there were further delays in him attending. By the time he arrived the baby’s heart rate was just 60 bpm and her mother was taken for an emergency caesarean. The girl was born in a poor condition and had to be resuscitated. Tests later revealed she had suffered severe and permanent brain damage.
After a case was brought against Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust by JMW, the trust admitted in 2007 that its poor care had caused her brain damage.
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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.