Date Published: 16 June 2010
Damages Settlement following cerebral palsy caused by medical negligence at birth
13 year old Alice Joyce with cerebral palsy caused by medical negligence during her birth has recovered £5.6 million damages from South Buckinghamshire Hospitals NHS Trust.
Settlement award agreed Lump sum payment of £2,250,000 plus annual payments index linked to ASHE 6115 of £95,000 to age 16 and £185,000 from age 16 for life. Capitalised current value of claim is £5.6 million
Alice Joyce was born on 23 March 1996 at Wycombe General Hospital and is now 13 years old. Alice's mother had a caesarean section delivery with her previous child but was not warned by the doctors that there was a risk of rupture of the womb should she have a subsequent labour and vaginal delivery.
If such a rupture occurred it would be a medical emergency allowing only a few minutes to save the life of the baby and mother.
If she had been warned of this risk she would have chosen to have a caesarean delivery again and avoided the risk of labour.
Alice's mother went ahead with labour, however, abnormalities showing on the babies heart monitor were not responded to. The CTG trace showed a rapidly increasing heart rate with persistent deep decelerations and loss of baseline variability. No action was taken to deliver Alice quickly and she was born several hours later in a very poor condition and not breathing.
Shortly after delivery, Alice's mother suffered a massive haemorrhage requiring resuscitation and treatment in ITU. Alice was admitted to the Special Care Baby Unit and developed fits.
Alice's development was delayed and she was later diagnosed as having spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. She has severe physical problems being unable to do anything for herself and also has severely delayed mental development and learning difficulties. The evidence was that Alice would have been born healthy and uninjured if she had been delivered by caesarean section, without labour, or if she had avoided the last hour of labour before delivery which was when the damage occurred.
The Trust admitted liability following a detailed letter of claim being submitted by Alice's solicitors Darbys.
The award of damages will be overseen by the Court of Protection and will be applied to provide Alice with the 24 hour care, equipment, therapies and accommodation she will need throughout her life. Alice gets particular pleasure and benefit from hydrotherapy and part of the damages award is being applied to build a hydrotherapy pool at her home.
Helen Niebuhr of Oxford based medical negligence solicitors, Darbys, the family's solicitor commented:
" Alice is a beautiful and charming girl who is very aware of her surroundings and close to her devoted parents and older sister. However, her life has been restricted to complete dependency on others by the brain damage she has suffered. The amount of money she has received seems a huge amount but it is required to pay for the care and equipment Alice will need for the rest of her life. Her family would prefer that she had never needed to make this claim and was a normal 13 year old girl looking forward to her future as she should have been. The award will provide security for her for the rest of her life.?
Mr Chris Joyce, Alice's father commented:
" After a tough 9 year battle this award will ensure Alice is looked after for the rest of her life and we are reassured about her future care when we are no longer around. Although it sounds like a large sum of money it is needed to fund Alice's round the clock care and ensure she gets as much out of life as her disabilities allow. Despite the many challenges we face in caring for her, Alice is a happy sociable little girl who gives us so much pleasure. It is so sad she will never have a normal life and do all the things we take for granted. The NHS continues to pay out considerable sums in these cases, isn't it time lessons were learnt so other people would not have to go through this devastating heartache. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Alice's older sister for all the love and support she gives to her and to us. We would also like to thank Helen Niebuhr and the legal team at Darbys for their commitment to our case and continued support.?
Alice's family were able to pursue this claim for her because of the availability of public funding for the case. Without this, the family would not have been able to afford the legal costs to prove negligence or what Alice's complex needs are with expert evidence.
Source: Darbys Solicitors, Oxford.