Teenage twin awarded £3.9m compensation over brain damage at birth

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A twin who was left brain damaged due to complications at birth has been awarded a compensation package worth £3.9m after settling her case against a health trust.

Rachel Hartley and her twin brother Thomas were born prematurely at Hemel Hempstead Hospital in 1999. Both suffered cerebral palsy as a result of being born early.

It was the twins’ case that staff at the hospital were negligent in failing to realise that their mother was in premature labour when she attended the hospital. West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust denied liability but agreed to settle the case with each twin.

Today the Royal Courts of Justice approved an award for Rachel of approximately £3.9m, comprised of a lump sum and annual payments to be made for the remainder of Rachel’s life.

The money will be held in trust so Rachel can manage her own affairs when she is old enough. Rachel’s award follows the award in March 2011 of a £2m lump sum to Thomas in settlement of his case.

The twins, now 14, were represented by clinical negligence specialist solicitor Sue Jarvis of BL Claims Solicitors.

Sue said: “This was a complicated case but the settlement today is an excellent one in the circumstances, where liability was never admitted.

The twins’ family has cared for Rachel and Thomas lovingly over the years but they brought the claim because of concerns about the provision of the degree of care and attention that the twins will need for the rest of their lives.

Each twin will require care, aids and appliances as they go through their lives and I am pleased to have helped them reach settlements that will ensure they are provided for.”

The twins’ mother attended Hemel Hempstead Hospital on October 25, 1999 complaining of stomach pains.

It was the twins’ case that staff should have spotted that she was in premature labour and given drugs to preserve the pregnancy long enough so that steroids could be given to strengthen the babies’ lungs before birth.

Both Thomas and Rachel suffered brain damage at birth, causing severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Both need wheelchairs, have some learning difficulties and have trouble with fine motor hand movements.

It was their case that if appropriate treatment had been given then Rachel would have suffered no brain damage and most of Thomas’ damage would have been avoided.

The Trust argued that the treatment given to Mrs Hartley was reasonable and that even if they had realised she was in labour and given drugs, the twins would still have suffered disability.

In a statement, the twins’ parents said: “We’re delighted to have reached this settlement which will help secure the future for Rachel. It means we are reassured that she will be given the care she needs in the future.

“We’d like to thank Sue Jarvis of BL Claims who has been a fantastic support to us over the 12 years since we started this case.”

Note to editors: The family do not wish to speak to the media and have asked that they are not approached.

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