A family has won a long-running legal battle for compensation after their son was left severely disabled after undergoing heart surgery.
The boy, now 13, was admitted to the Bristol Royal Infirmary for an operation to correct a 'hole in the heart' condition in 1994. Soon after the operation it became clear that he had suffered severe brain damage as a result of the surgery. He now has a significant language disorder, learning and communication difficulties, impaired motor skills and epilepsy.
The boy was one of 300 children who become known as the 'Bristol heart babies' after adverse publicity surrounding the treatment of children at the paediatric cardiac unit at the Bristol Royal Infirmary resulted in a Public Inquiry. The Inquiry investigated the cases of all children who received heart surgery at the Hospital between 1984 and 1995. This resulted in a damning report on the failures of the medical and surgical staff at the unit. This stated that the unit had failed to provide adequate care for children.
The family’s compensation claim was put on hold until the Public Inquiry had been completed. They then had to fight on against the NHS Litigation Authority, which continued to defend the claim even though liability had been admitted in many other cases.
However, a settlement of an undisclosed sum was finally agreed and approved by the High Court in London. Similar cases have resulted in compensation payments in the millions.
The NHS Litigation Authority also offered the family an apology for what had happened. The settlement will secure the boy's future care needs.