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Negligent Birth Delay Victim Due Millions

A young man has won the right to millions of pounds in compensation after a court ruled that a delay in his birth – brought about by midwives' negligent failure to call for urgent medical assistance – was the cause of his lifelong disabilities.

The 21-year-old was born suffering from quadriplegic cerebral palsy arising from oxygen starvation in the final few minutes before his delivery. A judge found that, had midwives summoned an obstetrician to the delivery ward when they should have done, the child would have been delivered in time to escape permanent injury.

In challenging that decision, the NHS trust involved argued that the judge's conclusion ran contrary to the evidence and was 'plainly wrong'. The case focused on a period of just 20 minutes and it was argued that delivery could not have been achieved within that time. Negligence had therefore not caused the man's injuries.

In dismissing the appeal, however, the Inner House of the Court of Session found that the judge had properly understood the evidence and was entitled to take a broad view of the time it would reasonably have taken for an obstetrician to arrive at the scene, to take stock of the situation and to carry out a safe delivery.

The amount of compensation due to the young man has yet to be finally assessed. However, his award for pain and suffering, lost earnings and the lifetime of care that he will need is expected to be very substantial.

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