Man who was starved of oxygen at birth awarded £2.5m NHS payout – nearly half a century after suffering catastrophic brain damage
Peter Atherton, 47, was born in August 1969 and was left severely disabled as a result of being starved of oxygen.
He has cerebral palsy affecting all four of his limbs, problems with his memory, communication and understanding, and learning difficulties.
Until now, his parents, Sheila and Maurice – both aged in their 70s – have cared for their son without compensation for the errors made at his birth in at the Billinge Hospital, Wigan, Gtr Mancs.
But a financial settlement was approved at the High Court, in London, which will enable Peter to receive the round-the-clock care he needs from professionals.
Speaking outside court after the brief hearing, Mrs Atherton said: “Peter will be able to have a more comfortable life now.
“This gives us peace of mind for the future. I can’t thank our legal team enough, they have worked very hard and have been excellent with us.”
Mrs Atherton, of Marsh Green, said she and her husband first sought legal advice a number of years ago, to see if Peter could receive any compensation.
But they were told that, because his birth was so long ago, no medical records were available from the hospital.
It was only after reading a newspaper article in 2008 about another case involving missing records, where a man was awarded a payout long after his birth, that Peter’s case was revived.
His mother contacted the newspaper and was put in touch with solicitor Janet Baker, of law firm Keeble Hawson, who took on the case.
Through his mother, Peter sued the NHS Commissioning Group, with his lawyers claiming his injuries were the result of medical negligence.
A breakthrough in their legal fight came in 2014, when a doctor’s notes were recovered – which stated Peter was born pale and asphyxiated.
His barrister, Simeon Maskrey QC, told the court the notes indicated it had taken 20 minutes to resuscitate him. Without admitting liability, the trust agreed to settle the case for a £2.5m lump sum – avoiding the need for a trial.Approving the settlement, and paying tribute to the Athertons’ devotion, Judge Graham Wood QC said: “Clearly, over 47 years, these parents have dedicated themselves to looking after their son, with little professional assistance.
“Where parents have dedicated themselves in the way these parents have, it is only right the court notes and commends their dedication. One hopes now, with the benefit of these funds, that professional care can be provided.
“This gives them some assurance that, should anything happen to them in future, Peter will be very well cared for.”