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Julia’s story: £5.8m awarded for a cerebral palsy claim against East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust

Julia’s story: £5.8m awarded for a cerebral palsy claim against East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust

Julia was born in 2001. Shortly before the birth, the mother noted decreased movement of the baby. She was transferred from one hospital to another. The baby became distressed following spontaneous rupture of membranes, and meconium-stained fluid began leaking from the uterus. There were problems with the foetal cardiotocography (CTG) tracing and during the course of the day, the CTG tracings became unreactive. Foetal blood samples were, however, normal, and later on in the day the mother was noted to be fully dilated. By this time, the CTG tracings indicated a bradycardia.

In light of these presenting symptoms, a Caesarean section should have been performed at this point. Julia was later delivered with the use of a ventouse cup. She was not breathing when she was born and had to be ventilated with a bag and mask. She eventually drew her first breath at eight minutes of age.

Julia was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, with her motor and intellectual functioning affected. She can walk independently and feed herself, though she is liable to trips and falls when walking, and she has a statement of special educational needs. She also has a slightly reduced life expectancy.

The claims process

Establishing liability

Julia’s parents (the claimant) instructed Alison Ainsley to bring a claim against East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust (the defendant). Legal Aid was obtained and there was an investigation to determine liability in the first instance. Expert evidence was obtained from independent specialists in the fields of obstetrics and midwifery, neuroradiology, neonatology and paediatrics. All of those independent experts supported the case, but the defendant initially denied liability. Court proceedings were commenced and the defendant then admitted liability shortly before trial.

Valuing the claim

With an admittance of liability, Alison Ainsley of our firm began significant investigations to value the claim. Experts were instructed to assess Julia’s needs for care, including care that had already been provided by the family, care that was currently required, and care that would be needed in the future. Evidence was obtained from experts in the fields of occupational therapy, accommodation, speech and language therapy, physiotherapy, educational psychology and IT. Dermot Kirkwood of our firm was appointed as Professional Deputy to manage the financial affairs of the claimant. Once expert evidence in support of the value of the claim had been obtained, a Schedule of Loss and Damage was prepared. The defendants prepared a Counter Schedule of Loss and Damage, and there followed what is known as a round table meeting.

Settlement

As a consequence of the round table meeting, settlement was agreed shortly afterwards. The settlement comprised an initial lump sum payment of £2.26 million, to be followed by annual payments for the rest of Julia’s life ranging from £58,250 per year to £123,250 per year. The equivalent lump sum was £5.8 million.

If, like Julia, your child was born with cerebral palsy and you feel it could be due to substandard medical care, you may be able to receive compensation. To enquire about this, please contact Alison Ainsley on 0191 5666 500 or law@longdens.co.uk, or fill out our contact form to book a free, no obligation advice session.