Compensation will enable disabled woman to lead independent life

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A YOUNG woman who was left disabled after being born with no heartbeat is in line for a seven-figure compensation settlement from the NHS.

Samantha Gooding, of Ash Road, Onehouse, was brain damaged when she was stillborn at West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, in 1987.

Now 23, Samantha, known as Sam, was left with cerebral palsy and developed epilepsy after alleged negligence on the part of maternity staff at the hospital.

Sam’s father, Stephen, launched a damages claim against the East of England NHS Trust more than 12 years ago to cover the cost of his daughter’s care needs.

“We felt there were questions to be answered and most importantly, we wanted to secure Sam’s future. That’s what the aim has always been,” said Mr Gooding.

On Monday, London’s High Court revealed that both sides had agreed a settlement on the issue of liability. Mr Justice Owen said he had ‘no hesitation at all’ in approving the deal, which provides a 70 per cent pay out of the full claim.

The family’s lawyers said ‘inadequate monitoring’ was to blame for the extent of Sam’s injuries and that better cardiotacographic monitoring would have triggered a warning, meaning doctors could have brought the birth forward and reduced damage done to Sam’s brain.

Mr Gooding said: “It’s mixed feelings for me. It’s great that Sam’s future is assured but it’s not nice to do this to the health service. We couldn’t thank West Suffolk Hospital enough for all the aftercare and we couldn’t fault them, they did everything possible to help.”

Problems began when Sam’s mother, Alison, was admitted to hospital with high blood pressure. Sam was born prematurely with no heartbeat and doctors battled for 25 minutes to bring her back to life.

She was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge, and after three days her family made the heartbreaking decision to switch off her life support machine – but against all the odds, Sam miraculously pulled through.

Despite the challenges caused by cerebral palsy and epilepsy, and the need for 24-hour care, Sam leads a happy life. She works at Oxfam, in Stowmarket, and enjoys spending time with her friends. But her family say the compensation will change her life.

“Now Sam will be able to live more independently in her own house with a live-in carer,” said Mrs Gooding.

A statement from the East of England NHS trust confirmed that it had agreed to pay 70 per cent of the full claim: “The trust is pleased that the case was settled without recourse to trial and hopes that the eventual award in this case will be of benefit to Samantha.”