December 12 2013 Latest news:
Dominic Bareham, senior reporter
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
An 11-year-old Norwich girl who has bravely faced disability has been awarded £8.1m compensation after she was left with brain damage at her birth.
Staff at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital failed to pick up on signs that Amber Atkins was in increasing distress when her mother Lyn went into labour in May 2002, resulting in her suffering oxygen starvation in the final few minutes before her birth.
She was left with disabilities needing lifetime care.
Her parents Lyn and Jason welcomed the settlement made at the High Court in London, and said: “It has been a very difficult period for everyone involved, but our hope now is that we can begin to prepare for the future with Amber and live as a family with a degree of certainty and normality.
“Our priority has always been Amber’s care. Her day-to-day needs are significant and will remain so for the rest of her life.
“This settlement, which will result in staged payments each year, will safeguard Amber’s care now and in the future.” The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Trust will pay Amber, of Brewers Court, a £2.8m lump sum, plus annual index linked payments to pay for the lifetime of care she needs to cope with her disability.
Those payments will start at £125,000 a year, before rising to £208,500 a year when she reaches adulthood.
The court heard that although Amber has retained a bright mind and strong personality, can express herself well and attends mainstream school, she has been left dependent on her parents’ care as the cerebral palsy has affected all four of her limbs and left her wheelchair-bound.
Although she can use a joystick, she writes by using her left hand to operate the keyboard.
Her lawyers argued that, had she been brought into the world just 10 minutes earlier, she would have escaped serious injury.
The hospital admitted liability at an early stage.
Sarah Vaughan-Jones QC, representing the Trust, said: “This is a sad case in which liability was admitted at an early stage and an apology given, which I repeat in open court today.”
Paying tribute to Amber’s parents, she added: “Their devotion is no doubt the reason why she is such a happy little girl.”
Approving the settlement, the judge Mrs Justice Swift praised Lyn and Jason for the way they had looked after Amber and her five-year-old sister Millie.
She said: “I have a clear picture in my mind of Amber and her undoubted personality. I do not underestimate for one minute the hard work and determination of her parents in caring for her.”
She added: “It is no doubt attributeable to their care that Amber is such a happy and fulfilled little girl. Whilst they can in no way compensate Amber for all she has lost, I hope that the damages will provide her and her family with the best possible quality of life in the future.”
A hospital spokesman said: “The High Court has today approved the settlement of a claim brought on behalf of Amber Atkins against the Trust. Amber was delivered at the Trust in May 2002 and sadly suffered injury at birth.
“This claim was investigated in detail by the Trust and an admission of liability was made.
“The Trust has apologised for the circumstances which caused Amber to be injured and is very sorry for the resulting tragic consequences.
“The Trust is pleased the claim has been resolved and that an appropriate compensation package has been agreed.”