Trust pays out £4m to disabled girl
Monday 7th October 2013, 5:00PM BST.
A hospital trust has agreed to pay up to £4 million to cover the cost of a lifetime’s care for a young girl left severely disabled because of mistakes made during her birth.
Medical errors by University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire NHS Trust staff starved Hollie McDowall’s brain of oxygen, leaving her doubly incontinent, and unable to sit up, walk or communicate.
Today the High Court in Coventry approved the award by the Trust to pay for the care the little girl, now eight, will need for the rest of her life, including an immediate £1.7 million lump sum and regular annual payments.
Hollie’s mother Maryellen McDowall, from Coventry, welcomed the court’s decision over the financial compensation.
But Ms McDowall said she was “concerned the hospital has still not learned from its mistakes”.
The trust which runs University Hospital Coventry where Hollie was delivered in 2005 has apologised, adding staff training had been improved and measures were now in place to prevent any repeat of the mistakes made.
Ms McDowall had had a normal and uneventful pregnancy before arriving at the hospital on April 18, at 2pm, with contractions.
The baby’s heart rate was monitored and labour continued until by 11am the following day when Ms McDowall told midwives she had not felt the baby move since the previous evening.
By 2.35pm on April 19, she was very distressed and in pain and although drops in the baby’s heart rate were noted, no action was taken.
After three reviews, doctors were called for but none came.
It was only when the baby’s heart drop became dangerously low, falling to 49 beats per minute, that an emergency bell was pulled for a doctor with baby eventually delivered at 8.33pm by ventouse (vacuum) delivery.
Hollie was born floppy, pale and not breathing.
She was resuscitated and transferred to the neonatal unit but later diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a result of a very significant brain injury, caused by a lack of oxygen during the delivery.
The Trust admitted negligence in failing to deliver Hollie by 8.10pm on April 19, further admitting she would have not suffered any injury if she had been delivered.
She will now receive annual payments for life to cover the 24-hour care required.
Ally Taft, of Alsters Kelley solicitors which represented Hollie, said: “Although the settlement sounds substantial, every penny will be required to look after Hollie properly and to provide her with the best care and equipment possible to try and improve her quality of life.
“No amount of money can take back the severe injuries that Hollie suffered, although, hopefully it will make her and her family’s life more tolerable.”
Meghana Pandit, the NHS Trust’s chief medical officer said: “We are sincerely sorry for the indescribable distress Hollie and her family will have experienced.”
She added lessons had been learned with consultant cover on the hospital labour ward 96 hours per week.
“All women admitted to the labour ward with a complicated pregnancy are now reviewed by an obstetrician and a labour management plan is agreed and documented,” she said.
“All staff now attend mandatory training sessions on electronic foetal monitoring and the use of foetal blood sampling.
“The Trust has also implemented the use of a ‘fresh eyes’ sticker, which prompts staff to double check a review of a foetal heart trace carried out by another colleague.
“No amount of money can ever compensate for distress and suffering but I trust the family will take comfort knowing the financial settlement will go some way towards helping Hollie.”