Inspection and Regulation

16.01.19

Girl left with severe spinal injuries at birth awarded £5.85m in NHS compensation

A girl left disabled after she suffered severe spinal cord damage during her birth has been awarded £5.85m in compensation from the NHS.

The child, now eight, cannot be named for legal reasons and will need “significant” lifelong care after she suffered the “rare” injury at Basildon University Hospital in Essex.

The High Court heard that the local NHS trust denied liability, but a settlement was agreed which will see the girl receive £5.85m in compensation.

High Court judge Karen Walden-Smith approved the deal and said the settlement was in the best interests of the girl and her family.

She said: “I hope that this settlement will make life easier going forward.”

According the family’s legal team, the girl was delivered with forceps and her disabilities were not discovered until she had been taken home.

Tests later showed she had severe damage to her upper spinal cord, leaving her permanently disabled, but the Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS FT denied liability.

The family said the use of a ventouse cup, an instrument attached to the baby’s head during the birth, had caused the injury after it was used to pull the baby from the birth canal when it became stuck.

The legal team alleged that the ventouse cup was placed in the wrong place and was pulled with excessive force based on the severity of the injury to the girl’s spine.

In 2016, the trust accepted liability on a 50% basis, which was approved by the High Court.

Eddie Jones of JMW Solicitors said: “This is a very unusual case as it is rare to see such a significant spinal injury caused to a baby during birth.

“This girl and her family will have to live with the consequences of this for the rest of their lives, but at least now they will have some financial help to make the best of a very tragic situation.”

Dawn Patience, director of nursing at Basildon Hospital, commented: “The trust is very pleased that the parties have reached a settlement agreement, and wishes the family all the very best for the future.”

Image credit - Nick Ansell

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