Compensation for brain-damaged boy

Posted: 22nd May 2014

A little boy who is facing a lifetime of acute disability due to a medical blunder following his premature birth has won a multi-million-pound compensation payout from the NHS. The Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust admitted that there had been a negligent 24-hour delay in giving the newborn an urgent blood transfusion after he developed severe jaundice in the days after his delivery.

The boy was born in good condition, to the delight of his parents. However, he arrived about seven weeks before he should have done. The Trust admitted that medics had failed to note or act upon test results, which revealed raised levels of bilurubin in his bloodstream, until it was too late to save him from brain damage.

The boy, who suffers from severe, lifelong disabilities, sued through his mother, claiming mismanagement during the neo-natal period. The Trust admitted 100 per cent liability for his injuries and agreed to a settlement of his case at the High Court. The settlement took the form of a £2.4 million lump sum, as well as tax-free and index-linked annual payments to cover the costs of looking after him for the rest of his life. Those payments would start at £135,000 a year, before rising to £228,000 a year when the boy reaches his 19th birthday.

The trust’s barrister apologised to the family in open court and commented, "Words cannot turn the clock back; a tragedy has occurred". He said that everyone involved in the case had been struck by the exceptional care and devotion lavished upon the boy by his parents, who had shown dignity and perseverance.

Approving the settlement, the judge said he had been moved on reading the case papers and described the boy’s injuries as ‘a true tragedy’. He expressed the hope that the end of the litigation would bring happiness to the family and enable the boy to meet his full potential. The judge also paid tribute to the Trust for reaching a settlement of the case and ‘acting in an honourable and appropriate way’.