Record £37m NHS compensation pay-out for brain-injured boy

A six-year-old boy who suffered a “catastrophic” brain injury after his birth in hospital has received a NHS record £37m in compensation.

The child contracted the herpes simplex virus at Watford General hospital which “was not detected and acted upon” soon enough, resulting in extensive brain injuries to the boy, according to his barrister, Henry Witcomb QC.

The court heard that there was a two-day delay in giving the boy an antiviral drug, as reported by the BBC, of which West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust has previously apologised for and agreed to settle his case.

The boy’s solicitor said the £37m pay-out, made up of a lump sum plus yearly tax-free payments, was the “highest award ever” in a clinical negligence case against the NHS and will pay for the 24-hour care he will need for life.

The previous record was around £20m, last week, when the NHS agreed to pay compensation to an 18-year-old woman for brain injuries suffered as a baby.

The woman suffered a respiratory arrest due to oxygen starvation in February 2000, and reached a settlement with the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.

In the boy’s case, who cannot be named for legal reasons, London High Court heard that the result of the negligence was “catastrophic damage to his brain” which caused eyesight and communication problems, cognitive and movement difficulties, and behaviour issues.

Mrs Justice Lambert told the court, as reported by the BBC, “the effects of the negligence have been tragic both for the boy and his family," and the trust admitted liability an early stage.

The trust’s barrister, John Whitting QC, said: “The care which he received was not of an appropriate standard and for that we are acutely sorry.”

He said that the chief executive of the trust sent a letter apologising to the boy’s family in a May 2017, and added that lessons had been learned from the incident.

Top image: Steve Parsons/PA Archive/PA Images 


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