The High Court has approved a £multi-million settlement following an alleged preventable birth injury which occurred more than three decades ago at The Cumberland Hospital in Cumbria.
The virtual hearing heard how the claimant, now 32 years old, had been failed by the hospital before, during and just after birth in 1988 and as a result, now lives with cerebral palsy and learning difficulties, amongst other significant disabilities, and operates at the level of a three-year-old.
Representing the family, who are protected by an anonymity order, birth injury solicitor Diane Rostron, said: “This was a complex case not least due to the fact that the incident took place more than 30 years ago and medical records could not be found. We are pleased to have reached a sensible agreement with the defendant, avoiding a trial and further trauma for the family.
“Our client is a protected party under the Mental Health Act and was therefore able by law to bring a claim several decades after suffering irreversible, and permanent injuries resulting in brain damage. Our client needs care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Had the warning signs in the final weeks of pregnancy been detected, and a caesarean section carried out 24 hours sooner, we believe that all serious injury would have been avoided.”
The parents, who have since moved away from the area, commented: “There were a catalogue of errors including the fact that junior members of staff were dealing with a situation that required someone with significantly more expertise. The impact of the incident on the entire family has been profound. Our fight for justice means that we can now provide the care our child, who is now an adult but functioning at the age of around three years old, needs for the rest of their life.
“We had previously been advised by a medical negligence firm that our claim did not have a high enough chance of success due to the decades that have passed and the loss of medical notes. We nearly gave up at this point before Diane was recommended to us.
“Before our child was born, we were told that it would likely be a stillbirth and therefore there was no preparation for a live birth. Born in a poor state, but alive, our family has been on a long and difficult journey. We are pleased that we have had a successful outcome and now have peace of mind that our child will have the substantial care they need for life.”
The Secretary of State, which was responsible for the hospital and its staff at the time, denied the allegations of negligence.
Following the High Court approval, the legal team will quantify the claim which has an estimated total value of in excess of £15 million.