Lincoln mother up for £14m birthing negligence payout

A mother whose son was born with cerebral palsy after he was starved of oxygen at birth at Lincoln County Hospital, is set to receive a record compensation for his care.

The High Court ruled after an 11-day hearing that United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust (ULHT) must pay an anticipated £14.6 million after failing to carry out a C-section on Suzanne Adams, and monitor her labour.

Her son, James Robshaw, now 12, will need care for the rest of his life. His condition means that he must use a wheelchair, he cannot speak, dress or feed himself without the assistance of a machine.

James was born in December 2002. Although his heart was monitored after Suzanne’s arrival, midwives either ignored or could not interpret the CTG trace correctly.

James had an abnormal heart rate and was evidently in some distress and Suzanne was exhausted by a prolonged labour.

He now lives with his mother in a flat in Lincoln and he communicates through sophisticated eye-gaze equipment.

James using hi eye-gaze equipment. Photo: Access Legal

James using hi eye-gaze equipment. Photo: Access Legal

Mrs Adams’ lawyer Denise Stephens of Access Legal said the precise sum is yet to be confirmed, although £18 million was originally sought. James’ compensation will cover his care, loss of earnings and accommodation.

Mum Suzanne Adams said: “After struggling to cope on my own for almost seven years without any help, the interim payments Denise [Stephens from Access Legal] obtained to pay for equipment and support transformed our lives. The award will make a tremendous difference.

“On paper, James’s problems seem huge and it’s true that he will need help and support doing the everyday things that we would all take for granted for the rest of his life. When you meet him though he’s such a brilliant, bright little boy and all the specialist equipment and support the award will pay for will help him realise his potential.

“The family has been through a very difficult time. It’s taken its toll on family relationships and my mental health and I am still on medication for depression and anxiety.

Suzanne Adams with her son James. Photo: Access Legal

Suzanne Adams with her son James. Photo: Access Legal

“I’m still angry about the avoidable errors that were made and the fact that the hospital was less than cooperative and quite obstructive at the start when it was obvious there was something wrong.

“No amount of money can ever make up for the mistakes that condemned my lovely boy to a lifetime of dependency on others, but the award will allow me to make the best possible life for James and I will always be grateful to Denise and Access Legal for the help and support they have given us throughout.”

The money will help to pay for specialist equipment for James.

The money will help to pay for specialist equipment for James.

Lawyer Denise Stephens said: ‘This is a tragic case of an avoidable accident at birth which caused devastating injuries. James is a bright 12 year old lad with a wicked sense of humour and perhaps the most distressing aspect of this case is the loss of the life James could have had if he had not been injured.”

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ULHT admitted liability for the disabling injuries in 2009. Pauleen Pratt, Acting Chief Nurse at United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, said: “United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust and the NHS Litigation Authority are deeply sorry for what happened and for the impact this has had upon James and his family.

“The Trust accepted in 2009 liability for the injuries which James sustained during his birth some 12 years ago. Although we cannot turn back the clock, we hope that the compensation, once agreed, will provide the reassurance that James’ future care needs will be met.”

The settlement is set to be one of the highest in NHS history. In 2013, ULHT paid out more than £7.2 million for birthing negligence claims, with nine-year-old Aaron Crosby receiving a £10 million payout after he suffered brain damage at birth.