Family of girl starved of oxygen at birth in Portsmouth win multi-million compensation award

Posted on: November 13th, 2013

A Royal Navy sailor’s daughter who was left facing a lifetime of severe disability after a hospital doctor mislaid his bleeper has been awarded millions of pounds in compensation.

Rachel Robinson, now 12, was starved of oxygen during the final minutes of her mother Margaret’s labour at Portsmouth’s St Mary’s Hospital in May 2001.

Lawyers at Coffin Mew secured the claim through a London High Court judge and it is expected to reach millions of pounds.

The court was told that at 6.35am a midwife saw that Rachel’s heart rate had slowed. She treated it as an obstetric emergency and took Margaret to a consultant-led unit. When Margaret arrived she was moved into a side room to wait as there was no obstetric registrar to meet them.

Another senior midwife began her reassessment. An obstetric registrar arrived at the scene. He was told it was an emergency but left the room to get his bleeper before assessing Margaret. She was taken to a delivery room at 6.58am and Rachel was born at 7.03am.

Her father Luke Robinson missed the birth because he was serving on board HMS Glasgow.  Mr Robinson, 33, whose parents live in Portsmouth, said: ‘It’s 12 years we have been doing this. It’s still going to take my wife a little bit longer to get over. For us it was about blame. It’s not about money. Somebody neglected our baby and my wife.

‘I left the navy because my daughter has cerebral palsy. My wife needed the support. Rachel in herself is such a determined young lady. She doesn’t let anything get to her at all. With this money it will help her because we can put in place everything that she does require,’ he said.

‘It will never cure her but hopefully it will help.’

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust had questioned whether an earlier delivery would have made a difference to Rachel’s condition.

The hospital does not accept that the delay caused her condition but Mrs Justice Carr approved the settlement of Rachel’s case.

The family’s lawyer Douglas Miller, who is head of clinical negligence at Coffin Mew, said: ‘The exact amount of Rachel’s compensation has yet to be decided but it will probably be in the millions.

‘Every penny will be needed to pay for the lifetime of care she will need.

‘We need to see how Rachel develops as a teenager and what her needs will be as an adult to ensure she is fairly compensated. If hospitals have more obstetric consultants ready to deal with emergencies these type of cases won’t happen. We are currently paying for them not investing in Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust 12 years ago. We’re paying for the clinical negligence of the past. More investment now in front line staff would mean more public money for the NHS in the future. It would make it a much more efficient service.’

Article extracted from Portsmouth News