pounds 3.2m for brain-damaged woman

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The Independent Online
A WOMAN who achieved academic success despite severe brain damage was awarded pounds 3.2m in compensation yesterday for injuries sustained at birth.

Marianne Leong-Ket-Shing, 24, was described by a judge as a "very remarkable young woman" who had proved that physical disability was no bar to intellectual achievement. She was asphyxiated when she was born at Northwick Park Hospital, London, in August 1975, which left her with cerebral palsy and virtually no movement in her limbs, but her intellect was almost unimpaired.

The award by Mr Justice Morland at the High Court in London is one of the highest made against the NHS, which is under increasing financial pressure from medical negligence claims. Last October, the Welsh health authority Dyfed Powys paid pounds 3.28m to Sam Mansell, 11, who was brain damaged at birth in what was then the largest medical negligence payout in Britain. It has since been exceeded twice.

The size of the awards will increase the pressure on hospitals and health authorities to curb the soaring cost of medical negligence claims. In 1996 to 1997, litigation cost the NHS pounds 235m and the sum is rising at more than 15 per cent a year.

Cases such as Marianne's, who was delivered by a method in which a vacuum cup is fitted to the baby's head to help to pull it out, have fuelled the growth in Caesareans, which are seen as safer than a normal delivery.