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Boy awarded £9.8m in compensation for brain damage resulting from hospital negligence during birth

Boy awarded £9.8m in compensation for brain damage resulting from hospital negligence during birth

A six-year-old boy has been awarded nearly £10 million in compensation to fund his lifelong need for care and rehabilitation, after he was left brain damaged following medical errors during his birth.

Kit van Berckel, from Harrogate, North Yorkshire, was born on 31st May 2008, after his mother Joanna was admitted to Harrogate District Hospital ten days after her due date. However, Kit was born without a heartbeat, after medical staff failed to recognise that he was suffering distress for a prolonged period of time during his delivery. He required resuscitation, but his brain was starved of oxygen. As a result, he was left brain damaged and subsequently has been diagnosed with dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy is a general term for a number of neurological conditions caused by problems in the brain and nervous system. The condition manifests itself in different ways but fundamentally affects a sufferer’s movement and co-ordination and occurs if the brain develops abnormally, or is damaged before, during or shortly after birth.

Kit’s dyskinetic cerebral palsy affects his muscle tone – the unconscious ability to relax and contract muscles. With dyskinetic cerebral palsy, muscle tone varies between floppiness and stiffness, with random and uncontrolled body movements resulting. The involuntary movements mean Kit cannot sit unaided, is unable to feed himself and cannot speak.

Staff continually failed to correctly interpret and act upon CGT scanning

Speaking about her son’s condition, Mrs van Berckel said: “We were devastated and heartbroken when we found out that Kit's condition could have been avoided if mistakes had not been made during his delivery”.

The family commenced legal action against Harrogate NHS Foundation Trust. The Trust admitted full liability for Kit’s injuries, acknowledging that delays in his birth had caused him to suffer brain damage. Staff had continually failed to correctly monitor, interpret and act upon pathological CTG scanning. The parties reached a settlement of £9.8 million, which was approved by a judge at Leeds High Court.

The family has already received some money, but they will now receive a lump sum towards building an adapted family home. The house will utilize technology so that Kit can operate doors, windows and television, with enough space inside to enable him to move around in a powerchair.

Further annual payments will assist in Kit’s care costs. He attends a mainstream school in Harrogate, where he is able to communicate effectively using eye-gaze technology and other hi-tech systems, and the money will be used to maintain this equipment.

Pleased with the settlement, Kit’s mother said “our life can now move forward, focusing upon ensuring the happiness and fulfilment of Kit’s life, and that of his brothers.”

The Harrogate NHS Foundation Trust’s spokeswoman stated: “The trust hopes that the settlement will allow the claimant to receive the care and attention he requires now and in the future to continue to allow the claimant to make the progress he has made to date from the devoted care provided to him by his family.

The trust wishes again to apologise for the failings in the standard of care that was provided to the claimant and his family.”

How to make a compensation claim for clinical negligence during pregnancy and childbirth

You are entitled to expect a certain standard of treatment from those providing medical assistance to you. If this treatment falls below standard you may be entitled to recover the cost of the private medical treatment needed to correct the failings on the part of those originally treating you.

If you want to enquire about making a compensation claim for negligence associated with pregnancy, child birth and maternity care, please contact one of our maternity and childbirth claims solicitors on 01895 207835 or 01895 207295. Alternatively, you can send an email with your name and contact information and brief details as to the nature of the medical negligence and the injuries sustained to PI@ibblaw.co.uk and one of our team will be able to help you.