Lawyers representing a young mother who suffered a pathological grief reaction following the stillbirth of her longed-for baby daughter have won her six-figure compensation after the NHS admitted breaching the duty it owed her.
After the mother went into hospital to have delivery induced, she was informed that her baby had no heartbeat. She had to endure 18 hours of labour before the child was stillborn by forceps. Although she went on to bear two sons, she remained traumatised by her daughter’s death more than five years after the event.
Proceedings were launched after she instructed solicitors, and the NHS trust that ran the hospital conceded liability. There was, however, a dispute as to the extent of her psychiatric injuries which required a nine-day trial to resolve.
In ruling on the case, the High Court noted that she was a primary victim of admitted negligence. She continued to suffer a pathological grief reaction which went beyond the sorrow naturally felt by a parent who loses a child. She had endured a prolonged period of acute depression and was so anxious not to be separated from her sons that she could hardly bear to have them out of her sight. The trust was ordered to pay her £271,901 in damages.