The High Court has approved an £8 million settlement for a seven-year-old child today, Monday 11th January, during a virtual hearing following a serious birth injury in 2013 at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant, South Wales.
The hospital, run by the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, has admitted liability for failing to follow local and national guidelines, and failing to deliver the baby by an emergency c-section six days earlier which would have prevented all injury.
The child has extensive injuries including significant brain damage resulting in the most severe type of cerebral palsy, affecting all four limbs. They are wheelchair dependent, are non-verbal, require feeding through a tube and need two carers 24 hours a day.
Representing the family, who are protected by an anonymity order, birth injuries solicitor Diane Rostron said: “Our client reported that her baby’s movements had reduced 32 weeks into the pregnancy. Both local and national NHS guidelines state that following the second reported incident of reduced baby movement, that medical staff should make an urgent referral to a consultant within 24 hours.
“This did not happen. After the first incident, our client was seen by different medical staff, including an appointment with an unassisted junior midwife, on no less than a further six occasions. During each of these appointments there was evidence that something was wrong and there was an opportunity to escalate to more senior medical care.
“From first reporting that the baby’s movements had reduced, it took the hospital a further nine weeks before urgent medical intervention led to a c-section. This should have taken place six days earlier at the latest. This prolonged period of inadequate medical care meant that the baby continued to be in distress, and they suffered oxygen deprivation before, during and after their birth. Their injuries are catastrophic and amongst the most severe that I have seen during my 25 years of practice.
“Our client’s child has not only suffered preventable injuries leading to complex, round the clock care needs, but also a significantly shortened life expectancy to their 20’s.”
Following today’s High Court hearing, the parents commented: “The settlement provides relief that our child can now receive the quality of care that they need for the rest of their lives. We were initially led to believe that their injuries were one of those things. Even after an internal investigation found multiple failings had occurred, we still felt dismissed by the health board.
“We have all been devastated by what we now know could, and should, have been avoided with the help of specialist solicitors and experts. Our lives are completely changed beyond recognition. Our child needs supervision 24 hours a day and every aspect of their life has to be carefully monitored and controlled.
“They are in pain daily, are non-verbal, are permanently wheelchair dependent and need regular and varied therapies. We have become carers as well as parents and the demands of meeting our child’s complex needs has had a profound impact on their siblings also.
“Today’s decision means that we have peace of mind that we can provide the quality of care that our child needs including lifetime care, quality therapies and specialist equipment. We have not come to terms with the diagnosis of a shortened life expectancy and continue to grieve for the child that we have lost with daily reminders of the life they should have had.”
Diane Rostron added: “Lessons have to be learned from these serious incidents and urgent changes have to be made by the health board immediately to ensure patient safety. While this incident occurred nearly eight years ago, and the maternity services run by the health board placed into special measures in 2019, prospective parents need to know that significant improvements in care are now being delivered.
“We are currently pursuing a number of birth injury claims against the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, including an alleged birth injury which occurred as recently as November 2019.”