Compensation awards in the most serious clinical negligence cases commonly run into millions, even tens of millions, of pounds. However, as the case of a teenager who was born to a life of acute disability due to a negligent delay in his delivery showed, they are no bigger than they need to be.
The boy was not delivered by caesarean section until after his mother had suffered a ruptured uterus. Starved of oxygen, he suffered brain damage resulting in cerebral palsy. He has learning difficulties and epilepsy and needs to live in a one-storey, wheelchair-accessible home. Although retaining some ability to communicate, he will always be dependent on others for his most basic needs.
The NHS authority which managed the hospital admitted liability in full for his injuries and, following negotiations, agreed to a final settlement of his claim. Together with a lump sum of £8,950,000, the authority agreed to pay him annual, index-linked sums to cover the costs of his care for life. Those payments will start at £174,000 a year before rising to £270,000 a year in 2024.
The boy is expected to live to the age of 70, although it is hoped that that will prove an underestimate. In approving the settlement, the High Court was satisfied that it represented a proper and professional assessment of the real cost of providing the specialist facilities and round-the-clock professional care and supervision he will require throughout his life.