Beds, Herts & Bucks

Brain-damaged Hertfordshire twin wins £2m trust payout

A boy left needing a wheelchair after complications with his and his twin sister's birth has won a £2m compensation payout.

Thomas and Rachel Hartley, now 11, of Hemel Hempstead were born in 1999.

After alleged negligence by staff at Hemel Hempstead Hospital, they suffered brain damage and both now have learning difficulties and need wheelchairs.

On Monday a High Court judge approved the settlement from West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust for Thomas.

The twins' mother Joanna Hartley, who has an older son, Matthew, was admitted to the hospital in October 1999, but doctors did not recognise that she was giving birth prematurely.

Learning difficulties

Instead they prescribed her with drugs to strengthen the babies' lungs, which preserved the pregnancy.

Lawyers for the Hartleys claimed the action caused the babies to suffer brain damage, which could have been avoided.

Both youngsters now suffer spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

They currently need wheelchairs when outdoors and are likely to be fully wheelchair-dependent by the time they are in their 20s. They also have difficulties with some hand movements.

The hospital denied that Thomas' condition resulted from any negligence on its part, but agreed to pay £2m in compensation, which will go into a trust to cover the costs of the lifetime care and support he will need.

The NHS Trust has also agreed that Rachel should be compensated on the basis of 70% liability.

'Anxious time'

The amount of compensation she is due is expected to be agreed later this year.

Approving both settlements, Judge Peter Ralls QC praised the care Mrs Hartley and her husband have provided for their children.

He said: "I express my sympathy to Mr and Mrs Hartley who have been through what must have been a very anxious time... I wish you well for the future, and for your delightful children."

A spokesman for the trust said: "The trust wishes to extend its sympathy to Rachel and Thomas and their family and is pleased that the court has approved the terms of settlement agreed by the parties."

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