'Humbled' judge approves £5.6m negligence payout

A High Court judge yesterday described being "humbled" by the devoted care given by the family of a girl brain-damaged at birth.

Mrs Justice Nicola Davies, sitting in London, gave her approval to a 5.6m compensation package settling a medical negligence claim by 13-year-old Alice Joyce, who was born in March 1996 at Wycombe General Hospital, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.

Her mother and father, Chris and Carolyn, were in court to hear the judge express her admiration and say: "No one can read the papers in this case without being struck by the care that has been provided to Alice by her parents."

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The judge said they had shown sheer devotion and told them she was "simply humbled" over what each of them had done for their daughter.

Neil Block QC, for South Buckinghamshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which admitted liability and publicly apologised to the family, said it was a "matter of profound regret" that Alice "did not receive the standard of care that she and her family were entitled to".

He added: "Money will never replace what Alice and her family have lost, but we do hope that now one huge worry will have been removed from their shoulders in future."

The award comprises a lump sum of 2.25m plus annual payments of 95,000 to age 16 and 185,000 from age 16 for life.

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An interim payment of 2m was made by the trust in 2008 which enabled the family to buy a new home in Buckinghamshire which the court heard had changed their lives.

Alice has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, severe physical problems and needs 24-hour care. he is unable to do anything for herself and also has severely delayed mental development and learning difficulties.

Helen Niebuhr, of Oxford-based medical negligence solicitors, Darbys, said of Alice: "Her life has been restricted to complete dependency on others by the brain damage she has suffered. The amount of money she has received seems a huge amount but it is required to pay for the care and equipment Alice will need for the rest of her life."