NHS pays nearly £30m to family of baby left disabled after negligent care

Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport
Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport

The family of a baby girl who suffered catastrophic injuries shortly after birth is to receive nearly £30 million after NHS bosses admitted there had been negligent delays in her treatment.

Stockport NHS Foundation Trust admitted a breach of duty in what is believed to be the second largest settlement in a medical negligence claim against the health service.

The award was approved at the High Court in London this week to be satisfied on a lump sum basis and with annual payments for all care and case management costs. The precise terms of the settlement are the subject of an anonymity order.

Although the baby girl was born apparently healthy, there were signs shortly after birth that she was in distress.

The court found that she sustained catastrophic and life changing injuries in the form of cerebral palsy due to a series of negligent omissions in her postnatal care and delays in performing surgery.

‘Girl’s life changed forever’

Commenting on the case, Bill Braithwaite KC, counsel for the baby’s family: “This young girl’s life has changed forever and the impact on the whole family has been devastating.

“They waited a number of years for Stockport NHS Foundation Trust to admit liability and faced the prospect of a trial at court until we finally reached a settlement. Justice has now been done and they can finally look to the future knowing her lifelong needs are provided for.”

Yasmin Ameer from Nockolds Solicitors, the family’s solicitor, said: “This is a hugely important settlement for a young person whose life has been irreversibly damaged.  Her whole family has shown such bravery and I pay tribute to them all.  It has been an honour to represent them.”

The firm said it had also secured £2.13 million in interim payments as the case progressed, enabling the family to buy a more suitable home and a rehabilitation package.

Teenage girl awarded £21.6m compensation

The settlement came a week after a teenage girl left brain damaged at birth after her caesarean was delayed and her mother’s concerns dismissed was awarded £21.6 million compensation by an NHS Trust.

Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust admitted that her injuries could have been avoided if appropriate care had been provided at her birth.

The girl’s legal team, led by David Thomas, a birth trauma specialist, brought action against the trust, alleging that it had breached its duty of care by delaying an emergency C-section and causing irreversible damage that would impact her for the rest of her life.

In 2018 a six-year-old who suffered a catastrophic brain injury after contracting the herpes simplex virus was awarded a record £37 million compensation payout from the NHS.

In what was the highest settlement reached by the NHS in its history, the boy was awarded a lump sum payout, plus annual, index-linked and tax-free payments to cover the costs of the 24-hour care he will need for the rest of his life.

Improvements to care

Speaking after the Stockport Trust’s settlement Chris Allen, a barrister with Exchange Chambers, said the family, who live in north west England, had been able to secure a settlement which ensures all of the baby’s future needs are provided for.

“It was also to the claimant’s benefit that we were able to secure over £2.13 million in interim payments to purchase a much more suitable property for the family which enabled the claimant to access a comprehensive rehabilitation package within her own home,” he said.

Stockport NHS Foundation Trust welcomed the settlement and said it had made improvements to care since the incident took place.

In a statement the trust said: “We express once more our sincere apologies to the family and wish them the very best for the future. The good care and safety of patients is our top priority, and in the years that have passed since this took place, we have made many improvements to ensure the highest quality care is delivered to everyone.

“We hope that the settlement will provide the family with some comfort and reassurance for the future and will help with the care and other support that they need.”