Amber, 10, in �1m legal action against Norwich hospital

A Norwich 10-year-old who suffered brain damage during her birth at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has begun a High Court clinical negligence action to claim damages exceeding �1m.

A claim issued on behalf of Amber Atkins, of Brewers Court, off Mousehold Street, Norwich, says she was brain-damaged when hospital staff failed to act fast enough when she showed signs of fetal distress.

The damage could have been avoided, says the claim, if she had been born just 10 minutes earlier.

The claim says Amber's mother, Lyn Atkins, was admitted to hospital in labour at 5pm on May 23, 2002 and although the fetal heartbeat monitor was reassuring, by 7.45pm the beat trace became suspicious. By 8.20pm there were prolonged beat decelerations which, according to the claim, is indicative of persistent cord compression. The hospital decided to use an instrumental delivery but did not proceed with appropriate urgency, says the claim.

Further delays occurred when mother Lyn was not transferred to the anaesthetic room for 15 minutes, and the anaesthetic was not inserted until 9.08pm.

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Amber was born with severe brain damage at 9.25pm.

The claim says this would have been avoided had she been delivered more quickly. Alleging negligence, the document says hospital staff failed to appreciate at about 8.25pm that the claimant was suffering acute fetal distress and failed to perform an urgent delivery of Amber.

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The claims says she should have been delivered by 8.55pm at the latest and in a modern delivery ward the 'decision to delivery interval' should not exceed 30 minutes in the case of a severe obstetric emergency.

Amber suffers from a mixed form of cerebral palsy and will always be wheelchair dependent and dependent on others. The claim is for more than �1m against Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for Amber's injuries and losses.

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