Freeman v Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust [2021] EWHC 3378 (QB) (03 December 2021)

Callum Best was born on 27 June 2002. Just before his birth he suffered a severe brain injury from being deprived of oxygen because his placenta became detached from the wall of the uterus of his mum, C (a ‘placental abruption’). Both Callum and his mum were very ill after the birth… On Christmas Eve 2014, aged only 12, Callum tragically passed away. [1]

Callum’s parents hold D responsible for his injury and his incredibly difficult short life. Their pleaded case is that on the morning of his birth, having had an ante-natal appointment at 36 weeks’ pregnancy which went well, at about 10.30am when they were out shopping C suddenly experienced sudden intense abdominal pain. They say [father] rang the maternity unit and told them this but was simply told to take C home to bed and give her some paracetamol… the pain continued to get worse and they went into A&E at D’s hospital at about 12 noon and after a wait were transferred to the Maternity Unit and finally seen at 13.10. After urgent examination and emergency Caesarian-section, Callum was born at 13.59. By then, he had tragically already suffered his severe brain injury. [2]

D denies that any such phone call was made, of which it has no record. Moreover, it maintains that no reasonable midwife would have given that advice to a woman who was 36 weeks’ pregnant and reporting sudden intense abdominal pain because it would be a warning sign of placental abruption – she would have been told to come in immediately… [3]

this case turns on an issue of fact: whether [father] called the Maternity Unit and told a midwife that C was in pain (and if so its intensity) and was told simply to take her home for rest and pain relief. It is not disputed if that happened (which is denied), it was negligent and that it caused Callum’s injuries. [5]

I therefore uphold that claim and award C the agreed sum of £500,000 [93]