Trust admits liability for boy’s brain injuries and agrees substantial damages

A LITTLE boy who suffered catastrophic brain injuries after medical blunders at birth at the DGH has won a huge compensation payout at the High Court.

Jacob Antoniades suffered a period of oxygen starvation after his birth in April 2003, leading to cerebral palsy.

After a High Court fight in 2007, a top judge ruled East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust ‘failures’ had led to the injuries and that it was liable to pay damages.

And this week, after a four-year wait, his family agreed a multi-million pound settlement of the claim to ensure Jacob’s extensive needs are met for the rest of his life.

Approving the deal, High Court judge, Mr Justice Tugendhat, paid tribute to Jacob’s parents, Marios and Karen, for the care they have provided to the boy. “It is a terrible tragedy that has befallen Jacob and his family,” the judge said.

“I can only express my admiration for the care which both Jacob’s parents have given to him throughout his life and express my own sympathy and good wishes for the future.”

At the High Court in 2007, lawyers for the family, who lived in Singleton Mill Road, said doctors’ failure to rectify a problem with the baby’s airway quickly enough caused the injuries.

A thick plug of mucus had developed in his trachea and, although several tubes were inserted to help him breath, it was not until an endotracheal tube was used to suck out the blockage that Jacob’s airway cleared and he started breathing again. The baby boy had not breathed for more than 20 minutes, causing him with terrible brain damage and suffering from cerebral palsy.

Giving judgment following the 2007 trial, Mr Justice Mackay said there had been breaches of duty of care in a failure to report a blockage in the first tube which was inserted and a failure then to act quickly enough to use another tube to remove the blockage.

“The first of these failures contributed to a lack of understanding in team members as to the nature and extent of the airway problem,” he said.

“The second was more serious, and deprived the other relevant team members of the chance to apply a technique which there was time to apply and which would have saved Jacob from suffering any irreversible brain damage.”

Although the Trust contested the trial four years ago, an apologetic letter to the family from chief executive, Darren Grayson, was read to the court this week. The treatment provided had not been up to the standard to which the family were ‘entitled’, the letter said, adding the Trust’s ‘sincere apologies’.

The precise details of the settlement are confidential. The money will primarily be used to fund the care Jacob will need for the rest of his life.