£14.4m settlement for girl left with cerebral palsy
Cerebral palsy is caused by abnormal development of the brain or damage to the developing brain at birth, affecting a child’s ability to control his or her muscles.
It hinders the body’s ability to move in a coordinated way. It also can affect other bodily functions that involve motor skills and muscles such as breathing, bladder and bowel control, eating, and talking. It is estimated that one in 400 babies born in the UK have a type of cerebral palsy. The Office for National Statistics figures indicate that with an annual birth rate in England and Wales of around 700,000, there may be as many as 1,700 new cases of cerebral palsy in children each year.
Award for brain damage at birth
In this tragic case, an 11-year-old girl who was left with dyskinetic cerebral palsy after suffering a serious brain injury at birth has been awarded more than £14m in damages. The girl, who cannot be named, but is referred to as MXX in legal documents, suffered the injuries as a result of failings in care during her birth at The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel in May 2007.
Her mother had previously given birth by caesarean section and this labour was therefore to be a trial of vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC), which carries an enhanced risk of uterine rupture and must be monitored extremely carefully. However, this extra level of care was not afforded to MXX’s mother and she suffered a rupture to her uterus.
NHS trust response
The Chief Executive at Barts Health NHS Trust wrote to MXX’s mother in 2007 to offer his sincere apologies, acknowledging the obstetric care provided during her labour was not to a standard that the family was entitled to expect. In 2012, the Trust also admitted that the time of MXX’s delivery should have been 20 minutes earlier than was actually the case. The delay resulted in the child suffering severe brain damage that could have been avoided.
The neurological damage caused during her birth has meant that MXX has been unable to lead a full and independent life. She suffers with coordination issues and has significant learning difficulties. She will require a lifetime of specialist care.
Substantial settlement approved
At the Royal Courts of Justice in January, Her Honour Judge Walden-Smith approved a settlement of £14.4m. This encompasses a lump sum payment of £4.4m plus annual payments to cover the cost of care, support, specialist therapies and accommodation throughout MXX’s lifetime.