Date Published: 14 October 2009

£7.1 Million Settlement Won For Oxfordshire Child by Leading Law Specialist Darbys

Health News from Oxford, England (UK).

10 year old Harry Snowdon has been awarded a financial settlement amounting to the sum of £7.1 million as a result of a medical negligence claim which left Harry with severe brain damage (Tuesday 13 October 2009).

The Judge at the High Court in London awarded a financial settlement comprising of £2.3 million plus annual payments index linked to ASHE 6115 of £75,000 to age 16, £85,000 to age 19 and £165,000 from age 19 for life (£7.1 million).

Harry was born on 23 February 1999 at The John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford. The CTG monitors during labour showed abnormal decelerations of the Harry’s heart rate causing oxygen starvation. Despite this, Harry’s condition was not checked by blood sampling and syntocinon was continued and increased to strengthen contractions. As a result obstetricians instructed in the case advised that Harry was delivered by caesarean section some 4 hours later than he should have been and had by that time sustained severe brain damage due to oxygen starvation. At birth he was in a poor condition, not breathing and required resuscitation.

Harry has severe brain damage causing developmental delay, limitations to his mobility, memory and learning difficulties and behavioural problems. He has a normal life expectancy but will never work and will require 24 hour care for life. He has awareness of the differences between himself and his peers and his limitations which become more challenging as he gets older.

The awarded damages will be in trust to ensure it provides Harry with the care and support he will need for the rest of his life.

The hospital trust admitted liability for Harry’s injury in December 2007 and since then experts have been assessing Harry’s future prognosis and needs.

Helen Niebuhr of Oxford Solicitors, Darbys, said

This award may seem a great deal of money but it is required to pay for the care, support and equipment Harry will require for the rest of his life. He is young and will live a normal life span. He will never be independent or able to work. It is certainly not a win fall and Harry’s family would much rather their son had not been harmed and was enjoying life as a normal 10 year old. The parents have been devoted to him since birth and are very pleased that this award with annual ongoing payments will secure his future.”

It is a tragedy for the families involved and for the health service that these cases of negligence are continuing to happen in our hospitals damaging healthy babies so severely. The best outcome for all would be lessons learned which ensure better care is provided in future.

Mrs Debra Snowdon, Harry’s mother said

" We have pursued this claim to ensure that Harry is looked after and taken care of for the rest of his life. We are both relieved that the settlement has eventually been agreed and that we will not have to worry about what will happen to him when we are no longer around.

Caring for Harry is both challenging but also extremely rewarding but we would both have liked to have had the opportunity to see him grow up as a normal boy. His younger brother gives Harry tremendous encouragement and support for which we are eternally grateful. We sincerely hope that the Health Service will start to take note of their mistakes and instead of paying out millions in negligence claims, ensure that sufficient numbers of suitably trained staff are available to stop these types of accidents occurring in the future.

We are extremely grateful to Helen Niebuhr and her legal team at Darbys Solicitors for all the professional support and guidance they have given us. Without Helen's determination we would not have been able to achieve this successful conclusion."

Harry’s family were able to pursue this claim for him because of the availability of public funding for the case. Without that his family would never have been able to fund the legal costs or expert evidence needed.


Source: Darbys Solicitors, Oxford.

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