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€1.4m for girl (8) as hospital admits injuries shouldn't have happened

An eight-year-old girl confined to a wheelchair following injuries she received at birth would not have been born disabled if she had been delivered just 12 minutes earlier.

Waterford Regional Hospital yesterday apologised to Alex Butler from Dunmore East, Co Waterford as part of a settlement of her action for damages against the HSE, which made a €1.4m interim payment for her care.

The case will return to court in two years to assess the cost of caring for Alex in the future.

It was claimed staff at the hospital had failed to recognise the need for a caesarean section.

In an apology read to the court, the hospital accepted what happened should not have happened.

"Waterford Regional Hospital sincerely regrets the tragic consequences their failings have caused to Alex and to her parents John and Sonya Butler," it said.

Alex, through her mother Sonya, Kilmacleague, Dunmore East, Co Waterford, sued consultant obstetrician at Waterford Regional Hospital John Bermingham, locum consultant obstetrician Mahmud Khbuli, and the HSE as a result of the management of her birth on April 12, 2005.

The settlement was against the HSE only and the case against Mr Bermingham and Mr Khbuli was struck out.

It was claimed the HSE failed to have properly trained competent medical staff to deal with the delivery and and failed to ensure there were competent obstetricians available to effect a delivery.

It was further claimed that the HSE failed to ensure Mr Khbuli was a competent obstetrician and permitted consultant obstetrician Mr Bermingham to be absent without ensuring there was competent cover in place.

It was claimed by Liam Reidy on behalf of Alex that three publicly appointed consultants were away on holidays at the time, leaving a locum on duty.

The HSE have since said that only one obstetrician was away on holidays at the time.

Alex’s counsel Liam Reidy said that the consultant obstetrician Mr Khbuli was in charge.

Alex's mother, he said, had decided to go private as this was her first pregnancy. He said Mr Khbuli was not fit to be in charge.

Mr Reidy said it was a tragic case as Mrs Butler's pregnancy had been perfect and it was only in the last 10 or 12 minutes of the birth that the damage occurred to Alex.

Mr Reidy said if Alex had been born 12 minutes earlier, there would be no disability.

The Butlers said they wanted to point out that the midwives working on the night of the delivery had done their best.

It was claimed by Liam Reidy on behalf of Alex that three publicly appointed consultants were away on holidays at the time, leaving a locum on duty.

The HSE have since said that only one obstetrician was away on holidays at the time.

Irish Independent