Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust has agreed to pay compensation of a six figure sum in an out of court settlement after an investigation revealed that negligent failures in care caused a Mother’s baby to be born prematurely, and sadly died within 24 hours of birth. The Mother suffered a major Post Traumatic Stress Disorder injury (PTSD) as a result.
The Mother, who wishes to remain anonymous, instructed specialist Clinical Negligence Solicitor Adam Wright and his team at Setfords to investigate the standard of care she had received.
The patient contacted the Sexual Health Clinic managed by Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust after undertaking a remote test for a sexually transmitted infection. She was later found to be positive for syphilis infection and commenced treatment for the same. Usual management for such an infection is to review the patient after treatment at 3, 6 and 12 months to ensure that the infection had been successfully eradicated. However, the patient received no such follow-up.
Almost 2 years later, the patient was referred back to Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust by maternity services at a different hospital because she had returned a positive test for syphilis infection in early pregnancy. After undergoing further blood tests and telephone consultations, Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust advised that no further treatment was necessary and that the pregnancy could continue without concern.
However, the patient presented to maternity services at around 29 weeks into her pregnancy complaining of reduced fetal movements. She was admitted to hospital and, following an assessment which found her baby to be in a poor condition, an emergency caesarean section was performed.
The baby, a girl, was born in a very poor condition requiring resuscitation at birth. She was intubated and admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit. Sadly, her condition was such that she died within 24 hours of her birth. A post-mortem found the cause of death to be Multi-Organ Failure due to Congenital syphilis.
Following the events, Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust launched an investigation and found that there had been a failure to properly follow up the patient after her initial treatment; that there was a lack of post-treatment blood tests to compare with current blood results; and that due consideration was not given to more recent blood tests being consistent with current and ongoing syphilis infection. In other words, the patient’s syphilis infection had not been adequately treated.
Upon receipt of the Trust’s investigation report, Adam Wright, a Senior Clinical Negligence Solicitor at Setfords, was instructed to investigate a claim for Medical Negligence. The Mother particularly wanted to know if her baby’s death could have been avoided had her syphilis infection been properly treated.
We obtained the relevant medical records, and in light of the Trust’s findings within its investigation report, we sent a formal Pre Action Letter of Notification to the Trust inviting it to make an early admission of liability.
Shortly thereafter, the Trust’s Chief Executive responded in writing that “The Trust fully accepts that we failed to provide appropriate follow-up care…” and “that the absence of this care resulted in the tragic death of your daughter…”
Liability was therefore admitted by the Trust at a very early stage, and so we commenced investigations to understand the value of the claim.
An expert Psychiatrist was instructed to report upon the nature of the patient’s psychological injuries, her treatment needs, and her prognosis. The expert was of the opinion that she had suffered a major Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which continued, and was such that it rendered her disabled as defined by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and that its impact disadvantaged her on the open labour market. The expert was of the opinion that she required multiple courses of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Compassion Focussed Therapy to aid her recovery. He was also of the opinion that she remained vulnerable to future episodes of psychiatric ill health, whereby she would need future therapies. He further opined that there was a risk that her PTSD symptoms could return if she were to conceive again in the future. He documented how her experiences were so traumatic that she could not sit on the sofa where she first experienced concerns for the lack of movement of her baby, and how she and her husband were required to move house as she was traumatised each time she passed the room which had intended to become her daughter’s nursery.
Thereafter, we spent time with our client to properly understand the full extent and impact that this had had upon her. We also took details of the financial losses she had encountered as a result. We identified that she had suffered a loss in income, had required care and assistance from her family, and had incurred losses associated with the items she had purchased for her baby in anticipation of her arrival, such as clothes and toys.
A detailed Schedule of Loss was then prepared. This is a formal document itemising all past and future losses, providing a detailed breakdown of the value of the claim. Within this document, a “Smith v Manchester” award was claimed, which is lump sum payment reflective of income designed to compensate the claimant if they found themselves out of work, and struggled to secure re-employment because of their injuries.
The Parties then engaged in settlement negotiations which resulted in an agreed sum of damages equating to six figures.
Upon securing the settlement our Client said; “Thank you to you and your team for helping me get justice for my little girl! I brought this claim because I wanted them to know that my little girl died because of them, and they need to learn from their mistakes to ensure this never happens again. Whilst I am relieved that the case is over, I will live with this forever. I will never get to hear my daughter laugh and I never got to hear her cry. I will never experience her first day of school and I will never get to see her graduate. They took her life away and in doing so they changed mine forever.”