Lincolnshire hospitals trust paid £57 million in damages due to negligence causing cerebral palsy
United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust has paid out more than £57 million in damages over 10 years due to failings leading to cerebral palsy, new figures have revealed.
A freedom of information request submitted to NHS Resolution by specialist clinical negligence law firm Lime Solicitors showed that between the financial years 2010/11 and 2020/21, the trust settled 14 clinical negligence claims related to the lifelong condition, paying out £57.3 million in damages – an average of £4 million per case – and £9 million in legal fees.
The data also revealed that nationally, almost one in 12 cerebral palsy cases could have been avoided over the past decade.
Robert Rose, head of clinical negligence at Lime Solicitors, said: “One of the main causes of cerebral palsy is hypoxic brain injury during childbirth, which is where a baby’s brain gets starved of oxygen. Sometimes, this cannot be prevented or it is impossible to work out what caused the child’s injuries.
“However, negligent mistakes by healthcare professionals can lead to a child sustaining a hypoxic brain injury. Errors can include delayed delivery, birth injuries, failing to respond to the umbilical cord being wrapped around a baby’s neck, and missing signs of foetal distress, such as meconium.
“Our NHS is fantastic. While the first duty of a healthcare system is to do no harm, sometimes things do go wrong and care falls below medical standards. Clinical negligence claims play a critical role in safeguarding patients against negligent treatment."
With no available cure, cerebral palsy is a lifelong condition that affects movement and co-ordination. Those living with the condition may face movement, walking and speech difficulties, learning disabilities, cognitive impairment, hearing or vision loss, epilepsy, spinal deformities and joint problems – requiring ongoing physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and medication.
Robert added: “Caring for and supporting a child with cerebral palsy can be extremely difficult physically, emotionally and financially. Many families cannot afford the expensive and essential equipment, care assistance, education, and home adaptations required to help their son or daughter live a fulfilling life. One of the key reasons parents decide to make a cerebral palsy claim is to ensure there are sufficient funds to support their child’s ongoing health and care costs."
United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust Medical Director Colin Farquharson said: “NHS Resolution settles litigation claims on behalf of all NHS Trusts, and any funds paid out in litigation cases are not paid by ULHT but are covered by the premium paid each year to NHS Resolution.
“While we are not able to comment on the specific detail of the claims referred to during the 10 year period relating to this Freedom of Information request, we acknowledge that any failure to provide care to the high standards we expect can impact upon our patients and their loved ones. This is why we take every opportunity to listen to those experiencing our care and to learn from our mistakes, acting openly and honestly when those standards are not met.
"We also use the learning of others to improve the quality of our care, including implementing recommendations made from national reviews such as the report by Donna Ockenden for all Trusts providing maternity services.
“We remain committed to continual improvement in the care and support offered to everyone in our care.”