‘Sorry’ hospitals trust defends record after £5.9million payouts to brain damaged twins

West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust's chief nurse Jackie Ardley
West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust's chief nurse Jackie Ardley

West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust has today apologised but defended its record after paying out a combined total of £5.9m to teenage twins who were left brain damaged due to complications during birth at Hemel Hempstead Hospital.

Rachel Hartley and her twin brother Thomas were born prematurely at Hemel Hospital 14 years ago in 1999. Both suffered cerebral palsy as a result of being born early.

It was the twins’ case that staff at the hospital were negligent in failing to realise that their mother was in premature labour when she attended the hospital.

On Wednesday the Royal Courts of Justice approved an award for Rachel of approximately £3.9m, comprised of a lump sum and annual payments to be made for the remainder of her life. Rachel’s compensation follows the award in March 2011 of a £2m lump sum to her brother Thomas in settlement of his case.

In a statement apologising, Jackie Ardley, West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust’s chief nurse, said maternity practices have ‘changed and improved significantly’ in the 15 years since.

She said: “We are pleased to have agreed this settlement for the care of Rachel and wish the family well for the future.
“Our hospitals deliver 6,000 babies a year and we are committed to providing them and their parents with the very best care. The Trust is very sorry for the shortcomings in care when Rachel was born in 1999.

“It is important to note that maternity practice and the care of premature babies has changed and improved significantly in the past 15 years since the twins were born.”

The trust had denied liability but agreed to settle the case with each twin.

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust is a large acute trust serving people from across Hertfordshire, north London and further afield. The Trust is made up of Hemel Hempstead, Watford and St Albans hospitals and sees around 600,000 patients a year. It is one of the largest employers locally, with around 4,500 staff and volunteers.