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Boy Left Disabled by Ambulance Delay Due Millions from NHS

A wrong judgment call made by an ambulance crew in the midst of a dire medical emergency has left a baby boy facing a lifetime of acute disability. However, thanks to tenacious legal action taken on his behalf, the Court of Appeal has upheld his right to millions of pounds in compensation from the NHS.

Two ambulance technicians were on the horns of a dilemma when they were called to the home of an expectant mother. She had suffered a ruptured uterus, a very rare condition, and was in danger of bleeding to death. The technicians did not take her to hospital straight away but called for a paramedic to stabilise her condition and give her intravenous fluids.

That decision, however, resulted in a delay of at least 35 minutes in getting the woman to hospital. Her baby boy suffered oxygen starvation and severe brain damage and will need extensive care and support for the rest of his life. In court, a judge found that the technicians had been negligent and that this had caused his injuries.

In challenging that decision, NHS lawyers argued that the technicians had done all that they could for their patient. They genuinely believed that both the woman and her baby could die if they tried to take her to hospital immediately and that they should not have been castigated as negligent.

Refusing permission to appeal, however, the Court noted that the judge had based his decision firmly on expert evidence. Although the anxiety caused to the well-meaning and conscientious technicians was regrettable, the appeal had no reasonable prospect of success. The amount of the boy's compensation has yet to be assessed but is likely to run into millions of pounds.

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