Hospital to make £8.75m payment over birth blunder

Residents in south east ‘in hibernation’

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AN eight-year-old girl left brain damaged after blunders by maternity staff during her birth has won £8.75m damages.

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust has apologised after Darcie Hooper was starved of oxygen in the womb at St Mary’s Hospital, Milton.

She was left with tetraplegic cerebral palsy and will need lifelong care.

Maternity staff missed vital signs on monitoring equipment which indicated Darcie was in distress during labour.

Darcie will be dependant on others for almost all of her needs for the rest of her life due to the injuries she suffered during birth on March 16, 2003.

She also suffers from epilepsy, severe learning difficulties, behavioural problems and is unable to walk.

Mrs Justice Cox today approved the final settlement of an £8.75m claim made on Darcie’s behalf after mum Janet, who lived in Moraunt Drive, Fareham, sued for damages at the High Court in London. Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust had admitted liability at an early stage.

Neil Block QC, representing the trust, yesterday apologised to the family.

He said: ‘I would like to take the opportunity to apologise – it is a matter of profound regret that Darcie was so gravely injured and also the circumstances that led to that injury, and we apologise to the family for the mistakes that were made.

‘We hope that some assurance has been given that such mistakes will not be made in the future .’

He added: ‘Her parents have shown devoted, loving care and can only stand back and admire.

‘Clearly money cannot ever replace what Darcie and her family would most wish to be replaced, but at least this settlement will provide for her financial future and her parents will know that her future is secure in terms of care and accommodation.’

Judge Mrs Justice Cox said: ‘I approve this settlement – I have no doubt it is in this young person’s best interests.

‘It is clear that Darcie is an affectionate little girl and had clearly benefited from all the input she has received to date, and that is in no small part due to the efforts of her parents.’

‘In a statement outside court, solicitor Alison McClure from Blake Lapthorn, who represented the family, said: ‘This is an excellent settlement for Darcie, which will provide the help and assistance that she will need for the rest of her life.

‘Her parents are delighted, and are now able to move forward with confidence in caring for their daughter. ‘

In a statement, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust said: ‘The trust would like to reiterate the apology already made to the child and her family and hopes the financial award for damages will secure their future and assist in maximising their potential.

‘The trust would like to provide reassurance that this incident was a unique set of unfortunate circumstances and, following a full investigation, every possible action has been taken to further improve the trust’s obstetrics services with the aim of preventing a reoccurrence of an incident of this kind.

‘We would like to recognise the highest level of care and devotion provided by the child’s parents and extend our best wishes to the family for the future. ‘