A Shropshire mum has vowed to continue campaigning for change after specialist medical negligence lawyers secured her severely disabled son a liability settlement following one of the UK’s worst maternity scandals.
Adam Cheshire was born at Shrewsbury Hospital nearly 35 hours after mum Charlotte’s waters broke. In the hours after his birth Adam struggled to feed, was crying and started grunting, all signs of early-onset Group B Strep (GBS) infection, a type of bacterial infection which can lead to life-threatening conditions such as meningitis if not treated quickly.
Around 14 hours after his birth, Adam was transferred to a neo-natal intensive care unit. The following day he was diagnosed with GBS and meningitis. He spent nearly a month in intensive care.
Now aged 11, Adam has brain damage. He has hearing and visually impairments. He has been diagnosed with autism, severe learning difficulties and behavioural problems. He is likely to be reliant on others to care for him for the rest of his life and will be unable to work.
Lawyers asked to investigate Adam’s care at Shrewsbury Hospital
Charlotte, 45, of Newport, Shropshire, instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the family’s care under Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust. Last year an independent review found more than 200 babies could have survived if they had received better care. Mothers also died or suffered injuries because of failures in care and children were left with life-changing conditions.
Irwin Mitchell is representing a number of families affected by care issues at the Trust as well as hundreds of other patients who have suffered maternity care issues under other NHS Trusts across the country.
Hospital Trust agrees liability agreement and interim payment
Following legal submissions, Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust has agreed to accept 80% responsibility for Adam’s brain injury. The Trust has also agreed an interim payment.
The next stage of his case involves obtaining evidence to establish the amount of compensation Adam requires to help fund the specialist life-long care and therapy he needs.
The liability agreement and an interim payment of compensation has today been approved by the High Court and will be managed by Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Court of Protection team.
Calls for lessons to be learned to improve maternity safety
Following the liability approval, Adam’s mother, Charlotte, a Church of England priest, has joined her legal team in calling for lessons to be learned to improve maternity safety nationally.
Sara Burns, the expert medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Charlotte, said:
“While the maternity failings which were allowed to manifest at Shrewsbury and Telford over many years are well documented, their shocking nature never diminishes.
“Behind each case is a human tragedy of how families have been left devastated by medical errors. Many of these were avoidable and have led to the deaths of babies or incredibly serious birth injuries, which have caused severe disabilities and people and needing a lifetime of specialist care.
“We believe that Adam’s care was typical of many issues families have raised. Serial observations were missed, signs that should have been acted upon weren’t and serious illnesses were diagnosed too late.
“While nothing can ever make up for what happened to Adam, we’re pleased to have secured this liability settlement which has been approved by the High Court – which means Adam will receive the lifetime care and support he requires because of his complex needs.
“Sadly, what happened at Shrewsbury and Telford doesn’t seem to be an isolated incident. We continue to receive many first-hand accounts from families across the UK affected by issues in maternity care.
“As we continue to campaign for improved maternity safety, it’s vital that, where appropriate, all Trusts learn lessons from the issues identified in this case to uphold the highest standards of care.
“Although GBS can make babies very unwell, most will recover with prompt treatment. A simple test can be conducted to highlight whether an expectant mum is a carrier of group B Strep and her care plan can be adjusted to ensure intravenous antibiotics are provided throughout labour to prevent the infection being transmitted.
“Everything possible must be done to prevent this infection in babies.”