Wednesday 23 January 2019

Boy (9) with cerebral palsy settles High Court action against hospital for €2.5m

Wexford General Hospital
Wexford General Hospital

Tim Healy

A nine-year-old boy with cerebral palsy who had sued over the circumstances of his birth at Wexford General Hospital has settled his High Court action with an interim payout of €2.5million.

Jack Wickham's mother told the court the settlement means she and her husband Nick can be "normal regular parents" to their three children now "without having the having the financial worry and burden on our shoulders" that comes with having a child with such physical needs.

Sinead Wickham said Jack can now have immediate access to occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech and language therapy without having to go on a a waiting list or wait for a therapist to return from maternity or sick leave  because their post has not been filled.

"Equipment he so needs can now be bought immediately without having to get approval from the manager of a paticular service and then to wait up to six months for the paperwork to go through and the equipment arrives," she said.

Jack Wickham Tullerstown, Ballycullane, New Ross, Co Wexford had, through his mother, sued the HSE over the circumstances of his birth at Wexford General on October 29, 2008.

It was claimed the baby showed signs of foetal distress or compromise and there was an alleged failure to discern the symptoms and to act appropriately. It was further claimed there was a failure to take action at 6am on the morning of his birth notwithstanding the nature of the CTG trace and that the second stage of labour had been allegedly prolonged without confirmation of foetal wellbeing.

The claims were denied.

The interim payout is for the next seven years when the case will come back to court to assess Jack's future care needs.

The Wickham's barrister Bruce Antoniotti SC said Jack was delivered at 7am but it was their case had he been delivered 20 minutes earlier he would have been spared damage.

He said Jack has spastic quadriplegia but is a happy, bright child .

Mrs Wickham told the court it was a "a very bittersweet day" and it had been "a long process to get get here."

She said the events of the morning of Jack's birth will stay with her forever and impacted on how their other two children were delivered.

"Jack has to live with this condition every day. He has huge challenges to overcome every single day.

"We have the most amazing, clever, witty and strong-minded child who deserves to live his life to the absolute fullest and today goes a long way in ensuring that we as parents can do everything in our power to help him fulfil his dreams," she said.

Approving the settlement Mr Justice Kevin Cross said Jack had received wonderful care from his family and he wished them all well for the future.

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