Advising with empathy and experience

Boy brain damaged at birth after 'string of blunders' starved him of oxygen.


A newborn baby was left with severe disabilities after he was starved of oxygen for 100 minutes following a series of medical errors.

Josiah Ellis was born without a pulse and had to be resuscitated after medics at Russells Hall Hospital, Dudley, West Midlands, turned off his heart monitor for almost two hours.

The little boy was left with permanent brain damage and later went on to develop cerebral palsy, leaving him requiring specialist support for the rest of his life.

More than 10 years after the traumatic delivery, parents Lotti, 44, and husband Marc, 52, sued the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust after it admitted “full responsibility.”

The family has received an undisclosed settlement to fund the life-long needs of Josiah, now 11, who requires a wheelchair and has learning and speech difficulties.

Lotti, now based in Ockley, Surrey, said: “What should have been the happiest time of our lives was awful. The labour was really distressing. As soon as Josiah was delivered he was taken away to be resuscitated.

“At first Marc and I were completely in the dark. Seeing Josiah afterwards in the special care baby unit while being told he may still die was heartbreaking.

“During my pregnancy Marc and I had pictured so many times what it would be like meeting Josiah for the first time. What we had hoped for was nothing like the reality.”

Lotti was admitted to the hospital at about 7pm on January 14, 2009. Around six hours later, medics spotted signs of an abnormal heart rate in Josiah.

Even though the baby’s heart rate decelerated five times before the CTG monitor was turned off, midwives failed to turn it back on for another one hour and 40 minutes, which led to a delayed delivery and, even though Josiah was born without a pulse, a paediatrician was not called. It then took four minutes for one to arrive.

Midwifery staff also did not escalate Josiah’s condition for a senior review throughout the labour, despite concerns about his heart rate.

According to experts, if medics had continued to monitor his heart rate, they would have seen signs of distress and Josiah would have been born within an hour.

Independent experts say that if Josiah were born just five to 10 minutes earlier, he would have avoided permanent brain injury.

Eighteen months after the delivery, Josiah was diagnosed with celebral palsy and has required round-the-clock care and therapies ever since.

The NHS Trust apologised and said the case was ‘tragic’, admitting the care fell below expected standards and, if Josiah had received the appropriate levels, he would have been born without brain injury.

Lotti said: “Going home without him was really difficult. We were so relieved when he was finally allowed home but we knew that he was not developing properly.

“Coming to terms with what the future holds for Josiah has been difficult but we feel so blessed that he is our son.”

The mother, who has another son, Samuel, aged nine, with Marc, said although Josiah faces ‘many challenges’, they are proud of his determination ‘not to be defined by his condition’.

Chief executive of Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, Diane Wake,  apologised and said: ‘We are pleased that the court approved a financial package to enable Josiah to continue to receive the level of care he requires, in accommodation designed to meet his needs for the rest of his life. “