Brain-damaged boy awarded £6.4million settlement

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A little boy who suffered severe brain damage during his delivery at an NHS birth centre was today awarded £6.4 million in settlement of his medical negligence claim.

... Mr Justice Tugendhat expressed his "admiration and sympathy" to the boy's parents, Janet Evans and Earnie Kramer, of Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, over the "catastrophe that Theo has suffered".

He said: "It is, I'm afraid, not unique to read about events as awful as these, but one sitting as a judge can only be in admiration of the way in which Theo's parents have looked after him."

The payment to Theo will be made by Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust on behalf of the Edgware Birth Centre in north-west London.

In a statement issued after the hearing, the family's solicitors said the trust "has admitted the birth centre was negligent and was responsible for the appalling injuries suffered by little Theo".

... Theo's mother was aged 38 when she became pregnant. His parents wanted him to be delivered in "the most natural way whilst at the same time minimising any risk to their much wanted baby".

... "Janet and Earnie were told the midwives at the birth centre were better trained and more experienced than many midwives working in hospitals.

"They were also reassured the birth centre would be safer for their baby and in the event their baby needed to be delivered in hospital this would be arranged as fast if not faster than for a woman already in hospital.

"Sadly this was not the case. Janet was left in the care of a student midwife. Theo's heart rate was not properly monitored and the student midwife failed to realise that Theo was in severe distress and needed to be delivered.

"Theo was gravely ill when he was born because he had been deprived of oxygen and there were further delays in arranging for him to be transferred to Barnet General Hospital."

Theo, an only child, cannot sit up without support, will never be able to walk and has severe learning difficulties.

... "The Government is pushing forward with greater focus on the use of birth centres but needs to realise that higher standards and safer environments cost money and proper training, and support is needed if tragedies like this are to be avoided."

... "This is a particularly tragic case where Earnie and Janet feel rightfully angry that they were misled into choosing an NHS birth centre to deliver Theo when a safer option in his case would have been a hospital maternity unit."

In a statement, the trust offered its "sincere apologies" to Theo and his family for the injuries he suffered.

Often, it's not so much the place of birth that influences the outcome of the birth, but more the knowledge, skill, judgment and experience of the care provider.

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448