A mother left traumatised by her disabled daughter’s difficult birth has been awarded more than £75,000 in damages by a High Court judge.
The woman, who cannot be identified, suffered a psychiatric injury following the birth of her daughter at the Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham, Kent, in 2012.
The baby was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy and the Medway NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, admitted liability for her injuries as a result of delay in delivering her.
But the trust disputed the mother’s claim that the events surrounding her daughter’s birth were so devastating that they caused her to suffer from an ongoing mental disorder.
However, following a trial in London, Justice Whipple said the mother’s anxiety and depression were a response to her experience during and after her daughter’s birth and the later diagnosis of brain damage.
The judge ruled: “The claimant’s mental disorder is inexorably bound up with her experiences in the delivery room and with her worry about [her daughter’s] likelihood of survival in the first few hours and days of [her] life.
“The causes of the mental disorder are closely linked to the defendant’s obstetric negligence just before [the child] was born.”
Whipple said the mother, aged in her 30s, felt “numb and overwhelmed” immediately after her daughter’s birth when she realised the baby was in a poor condition.
She did not see the baby until the next morning and was “heartbroken” because she was in a plastic box, not moving and surrounded by tubes.
The judge said: “The claimant was not allowed to touch her. She felt useless.
“She put her hands on the box and had wishful thoughts that [her daughter] would be OK.”
In the days after the birth the mother was “devastated” to learn her daughter had only a 50% chance of survival and later suffered a “knock-back” when she found out the extent of her brain damage, the judge said.
The judge heard evidence from the woman, her husband and her sister that she struggles to leave the house, is unable to work and “runs away” when she cannot cope.
The judge awarded the mother £76,183 in damages, which will include compensation for loss of earnings and therapy.
She said damages for the woman’s daughter will be assessed at a future date.