Birth-error boy awarded pounds 800,000

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A five-year-old boy who functions at the level of a three-month- old baby after a devastating introduction to life was yesterday awarded pounds 799,787 agreed High Court damages.

Ronan Manning was starved of oxygen before his birth at Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow, north-west London in July 1991, his counsel, John Cherry QC told Mr Justice Mantell.

Now five, he is a spastic quadriplegic, blind and with no meaningful communication or independent mobility. He is fed directly into his stomach, has spasms and fits, and cannot recognise his mother, Marion. He functions at the level of a three to six-month-old at best, and is likely to live only until his early 20s. Mrs Manning and her husband, Vincent, now of Askeaton, Co Limerick, Ireland, who also have two daughters, were not in court yesterday.

Mr Cherry said medical staff were at fault in taking no action when Ronan's heart rate decelerated during labour at a time when the couple were left in the care of a student midwife.

When it fell again, Mr Manning had to call for the midwife and Ronan was eventually delivered by Caesarean after a forceps delivery was abandoned. "He never recovered from this devastating introduction to life," he said.

Mr Cherry said the Mannings had decided to accept a payment into court by Brent and Harrow Health Authority as the case might have gone either way in the light of conflicting expert evidence on when Ronan should have been delivered.

James Badenoch QC expressed the authority's great regret for Ronan's grievous injury and its admiration and respect for his parents' devoted care.

Staying the action on the agreed terms, the judge said it was a just settlement of a "desperately sad" case.

Mrs Manning, who had also brought a claim over the delivery, previously settled her action on the payment of pounds 15,000 damages.