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13.12.18

NHS pays out £22m in damages to disabled girl starved of oxygen at birth

A severely disabled 11-year-old girl who was starved of oxygen at birth has been handed a massive £22m payout from the NHS.

The girl – who suffers from uncontrollable tantrums and severe cerebral palsy and can only be comforted by the sound of her mother singing lullabies – now requires round-the-clock care after negligent delays during her caesarean delivery at St John’s Hospital in 2007.

In a hearing at the High Court, lawyers said the Mid-Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust, which ran the Chelmsford-based hospital until it was shut in 2010, agreed to settle the family’s claim on the basis of 85% liability.

Alongside a lump sum of almost £6m, the young girl will receive index-linked annual payments to cover the costs of her care during her lifetime. These will begin at £155,000 a year, rising to £227,000 annually once she turns 18.

Overall, the settlement is valued at slightly over £22m, making it one of the largest payouts in NHS history – surpassing a £20m compensation made in October to a teenage woman who suffered severe brain injuries as a baby.

However, it still falls short of the record £37m given to a six-year-old boy who suffered a “catastrophic” brain injury after his birth at Watford General Hospital.

Judge Simeon Maskrey QC said the high payout was due to the girl’s 24-hour needs. “The reality is that she will live for a very long time to come,” he told court. “The effects on her family cannot be over-stated. Her mother has done as much as could ever be done to ensure she has a quality of life.”

In July this year, an investigation from NHS Resolution revealed that the NHS paid a massive £1.63bn in damages to claimants last year, amounting to a rise of £550m compared to the year before – although largely due to a change in the injury discount rate.

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