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Teenager receives £500,000 settlement from NHS Trust for brain damage

A child who suffered a catastrophic brain injury before his birth at a hospital in Sheffield has received a settlement of £500,000 in compensation.

The High Court in London heard how the boy, who is now aged 15, was still in the womb when he suffered a brain haemorrhage and “massive bleeding” at Royal Hallamshire Hospital.

"Nobody knows why," the teenager's barrister Simeon Maskrey QC said.

The trust in question - Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - has made no admission of liability, denying that clinical negligence played a part in the boy’s injuries, yet has agreed to settle his claim for £500,000.

Staff at the hospital also incorrectly thought the infant was suffering from both a genetic heart defect and leukemia.

The court heard that the boy’s condition was so severe, his parents accepted that labour should run its course without any intervention from doctors. However, Mr Maskrey argued that this decision was based on the “incorrect assumptions” from the doctors and that intervention had been necessary.

Mr Maskrey added that secondary damage from bleeding that continued after the child’s delivery could have been avoided.

Lawyers for the NHS claimed that appropriate advice and treatment had been provided, adding that by the time of the boy’s delivery “the die was cast” and the damage had already occurred.

The boy faces a lifetime of severe disability and Mr Maskrey said the settlement was a "reasonable outcome" for him and his family, while Judge Margaret Obi – who approved the £500,000 settlement - said she hoped the pay-out would give "some comfort" to the boy and his family.

Gill Edwards, Partner within our Clinical Negligence team and a specialist in handling cases surrounding birth injuries, comments:

When statutory services are so stretched, the families of children with disabilities caused by clinical negligence sometimes choose the certainty of a settlement, even if it does not compensate for fully for the loss or future needs. Where the risks of losing a case altogether at trial are in the balance, a family might accept a percentage of the overall value of the claim just to have the comfort of knowing there are additional funds available. In every case involving a child or a person who lacks mental capacity, the settlement must be approved by the court to ensure that the person is protected and to ensure that the case has not been under settled.

Gill is a Partner within our Clinical Negligence team. If you would like to speak to Gill or another member of the team regarding Clinical Negligence, or indeed any other aspect of this article, please call 0800 027 2557 or fill out the contact form at the side of this page. Alternatively, you can contact Gill directly here.