A FAMILY whose newborn son suffered life-lasting health complications having been starved of oxygen when he was born at Barnsley Hospital are seeking more than £8m in compensation due to alleged negligence - after court papers revealed he will require round-the-clock care for the rest of his life.
Dougie Sweeting, now four, suffers from cerebral palsy, visual impairment, profound learning difficulties and is non-verbal and requires a tube to feed.
Lawyers say the youngster’s life expectancy is likely to be ‘significantly constrained’ due to the stress caused during birth at the hospital on March 26, 2019.
They claim that if the boy had been delivered just ten minutes earlier - and a Caesarean section would have been offered - he would have avoided any brain injury or lasting neurological damage.
However, midwives were unable to complete a birthing pool delivery, and called for emergency help.
The baby was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his head - whilst not breathing - and had to be resuscitated to save his life.
He was transferred to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield before finally leaving on May 8.
His father, Richard Sweeting, from Crow Edge, has instructed law firm Irwin Mitchell to oversee the claim and alleges that he and Dougie’s mother should have been given a choice between continuing with labour or going for a C-section, and the risks made clear.
The papers, served by the High Court, said: “He (the child) is completely dependent on his parents for all his personal care and will always require to be fed via a tube.
“The chance of epilepsy developing in later childhood is approximately 20 to 30 per cent, and he is also at risk of developing musculoskeletal complications such as hip subluxation and spinal curvature.
“His life expectancy is likely to be significantly constrained - he has subsequently been diagnosed as suffering from, amongst other things, quadriplegic dystonic cerebral palsy with mild-to-moderate bilateral hearing loss, extensive developmental delay, cortical visual impairment and chronic breathing difficulties for which he requires the administration of oxygen.
“He is - and will remain - profoundly disabled.
“The brain injury was caused by a period of acute hypoxic ischaemia in the minutes before his delivery which continued into the neonatal period.
“If he had been delivered by a Caesarean section, he would have avoided any brain injury together with all his subsequent neurological problems.”
Someone can bring a claim against an NHS trust if it is believed they, or a family member, suffered harm or died due to negligent treatment.
Most recent data from NHS Resolution - which handles such cases on behalf of the NHS - revealed 54 clinical negligence claims against Barnsley Hospital were successful in 2019/20.
A total damages bill of £6.9m was paid out in relation to the claims over the year, while further legal costs totalled £917,064.
Successful claims against the trust were up 35 per cent compared to the 40 reported in 2018/19, when £2.9m was paid in damages.
The costs are so large because mistakes made during or shortly after childbirth can leave the infant with brain damage and lifelong dependancy on care, for which NHS trusts become liable.
Claims for avoidable cerebral palsy are ‘undoubtedly the most expensive’ of maternity-related claims and can even exceed £20m per claim, according to a report by NHS Resolution.
* The Chronicle contacted Barnsley Hospital for a response but a spokesperson said they could not comment until the case concludes.