No compo for disabled man who sued South Tyneside Hospital

South Tyneside District Hospital in South Shields.
South Tyneside District Hospital in South Shields.

A man who was left with life-long brain injuries after his birth at South Tyneside District Hospital will receive no compensation.

Jackson Ireland, 23, suffers from a "range of physical disabilities" , due to 10 minutes of oxygen starvation immediately before his August 1992 birth at the Harton Lane hospital in South Shields.

The damage was caused by Jackson's umbilical cord getting "wrapped three times around his neck" in the final stages of his mother, Lorraine Routledge's, labour.

Hypoxia was caused by the "strangulation effect" of the cord, but Mr Justice Coulson told the High Court in London that, despite his physical handicaps, Jackson's intellect remains miraculously intact.

Lawyers for Jackson from South Shields, claimed seven-figure damages from the NHS - sued as South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust.

The trust denied liability for his injuries, and the judge ultimately found against Jackson after a gruelling four-day trial.

He ruled hospital staff at fault in failing to offer Jackson's mum the option of trying to "turn the baby prior to delivery" - since the infant was in an awkward "breech" position.

Medical experts for the NHS trust insisted that that procedure was experimental at the time, and that it was legitimate not to offer it.

But Mr Justice Coulson found that the procedure should have been available.

"I am in no doubt that Lorraine should have been offered it, and the failure to offer her that alternative was a breach of its duty to her", he told the High Court.

However, although the procedure should have been attempted, it would have stood a "considerably less than even chance of success".

Nor were there any failings in the hospital staff's handling of the final stages of labour, the judge added.

The damage to Jackson was done in the last five to 10 minutes before he came into the world, but the judge ruled there had been no negligent delay by medics.

"I find that none of the allegations of negligence in respect of the actual delivery have been made out," he concluded.

"Moreover, even if any of them had been proved, I find that there is no evidence to suggest that the delivery in this case would have been any faster - or that the delivery time would have been brought forward to any meaningful or significant extent".

The judge's ruling means Jackson will go without a penny in compensation for his injuries.