Family of child left brain damaged by poor feeding win compensation

King George Hospital in Goodmayes
King George Hospital in Goodmayes
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The family of a child who was brain damaged after hospital staff did not explain the importance of feeding a newborn have won their High Court claim.

Nilujan Rajatheepan was in good condition when he was delivered by caesarean section at King George Hospital in Goodmayes, Essex in July 2009.

His parents are Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka and his mother, Sinthiya, was 21 when Nilujan was born and spoke only very few words of English.

When the community midwife visited the family at home after the birth, Nilujan was pale and lethargic, having not been fed for more than 15 hours.

His hypoglycemic state resulted in catastrophic brain injuries.

Nilujan, eight, now has cerebral palsy with severely impaired physical and cognitive function.

On Friday in London, Judge McKenna ruled that Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS Foundation Trust was liable.

He said the sad reality was that Mrs Rajatheepan did not get any instruction on how to feed properly or what to do if feeding was unsuccessful.

No one had ever given her a clear and understandable explanation of the importance of feeding - still less how she should respond if she had concerns.

Because of the language barrier, she was unable to communicate her concerns to hospital staff and when they were communicated by a friend, they were not acted upon.

If the baby - who had been crying continuously - had been reviewed when Mrs Rajatheepan was collected from the hospital, mother and child would have been kept in overnight, the difficulties with feeding would have become apparent and his injuries would have been avoided, said the judge.

By repeating the mantra that it was perfectly normal for newborn babies to cry without investigating the concerns raised, false reassurance was given to the parents so it was not surprising they did not later contact the hospital.

Damages will be assessed at a later date if not agreed.

Wendy Matthews, director of midwifery, Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, said later: "We would like to say sorry again to Nilujan and the Rajatheepan family and express our sincere sympathies to them.

"We are considering the judgment and the implications of the judge's ruling in this case.

"Although we have made huge improvements since this incident occurred in 2009, we will take the opportunity to review it closely and see if there are any more lessons about our post-natal care that we can learn."