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Man disabled after hospital blunders wins damages.

A man who has struggled with severe disabilities after hospital blunders before his birth will get millions in damages from a London health authority after a judge's ruling yesterday.

David Hemingway, 23, of Morriston in Swansea, was born with severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and sight and hearing problems after his mum, Sandra, suffered a placental haemorrhage shortly before his birth on November 29, 1983.

Mr Justice Langstaff ruled that there had been a 'breach of duty' by staff at Whipps Cross Hospital, in Leytonstone, which had led to David's injuries.

He ruled that the North East London Strategic Health Authority, successor to the now defunct Redbridge and Waltham Forest Health Authority, should pay full compensation to Mr Hemingway, who was not in court to hear the judgment.

Although the amount of the damages payout has yet to be finally assessed, lawyers confirmed that it is likely to cost the health authority millions of pounds.

On his behalf, Simon Taylor QC, had argued that the birth should have been brought forward before the crucial placental abruption, a premature separation of the placenta from the uterus wall, on November 29, which had caused the bleeding which led to Mr Hemingway's injuries.

But, Benjamin Browne QC on behalf of the health authority, said the critical event had taken place on, or before, November 24 and an earlier delivery would have made no different to Mr Hemingway's plight.

Doctors examining the placenta after birth estimated that the crucial abruption had occurred only a little earlier, since David would most likely have died long before if it had happened on the 24th.

The judge said yesterday, 'The consequence of this estimation of the probabilities is that, it seems to me, it is comparatively unlikely that an event on the 24th led to the haemorrhage which caused David his damage.

'It seems to me, on balance, despite the difficulties of analysis and despite the concerns I have expressed, that the event on the 29th did so.'

Earlier in the two-week hearing, the court heard that Mr Hemingway's mother had become pregnant in 1983 and was due to give birth in February 1984.

But on November 25, she complained of possible contractions, abdominal pain, bleeding and that the baby had stopped moving and was referred to the hospital by her GP.

Tests were done and she was discharged, but went back three days later for more tests, which highlighted the problem and the risk it posed to her baby.

Doctors ordered an immediate Caesarian section and Mr Hemingway was born about 7pm on November 29.

The amount of Mr Hemingway's payout will be assessed at a future court hearing, unless final settlement terms are agreed in the meantime.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 9, 2006
Words:452
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