Boy, 10, awarded £7.1m over medical negligence at birth

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A 10-year-old boy with a "great zest for life" was awarded a compensation package totalling £7.1m today over medical negligence at birth which left him with severe brain damage.

Harry Snowdon, of Witney, Oxfordshire, described as a "handsome, engaging little boy", will never be able to work and will always require 24-hour care.

A judge at the High Court in London gave his approval to a financial settlement of his claim, comprising a lump sum of £2.3m and annual payments for the rest of his life.

Mr Justice Holroyde paid tribute to the "devotion and unflagging energy" of Harry's parents Debra and Michael, who were present in court.

Harry was born on 23 February 1999 at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford.

His lawyers said he was delivered by caesarean section four hours later than he should have been and by that time had sustained severe brain damage due to oxygen starvation.

After the hearing, Mrs Snowdon said: "We have pursued this claim to ensure that Harry is looked after and taken care of for the rest of his life.

"We are both relieved that the settlement has eventually been agreed and that we will not have to worry about what will happen to him when we are no longer around."

Caring for their son was both challenging and extremely rewarding "but we would both have liked to have had the opportunity to see him grow up as a normal boy".

She said: "His younger brother gives Harry tremendous encouragement and support for which we are eternally grateful."

Mrs Snowdon commented: "We sincerely hope that the health service will start to take note of their mistakes and instead of paying out millions in negligence claims ensure that sufficient numbers of suitably trained staff are available to stop these types of accidents occurring in the future."

Harry's solicitor, Helen Niebuhr, of Oxford law firm Darbys, commented: "The parents have been devoted to him since birth and are very pleased that this award with annual ongoing payments will secure his future.

"It is a tragedy for the families involved and for the health service that these cases of negligence are continuing to happen in our hospital, damaging healthy babies so severely.

"The best outcome for all would be lessons learned which ensure better care is provided in future."

Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust admitted liability.