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Bridgend teenager disabled at birth is awarded 6.5m

25 January 10 15:12 GMT

A teenager who was left profoundly disabled at birth is to receive £6.5m.

Rhiannon Hayman, 15, of Bridgend, has severe cerebral palsy, is unable to talk or walk without help and requires round-the-clock care.

ABM University Health Board apologised at the High Court for failures by the former Bro Morgannwg NHS Trust in the management of her mother's labour.

She sustained her injuries after being starved of oxygen during her birth at Bridgend's Princess of Wales Hospital.

At a hearing, the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Local Health Board agreed to pay a settlement including a £2m lump sum and periodical payments to fund her care needs for the rest of her life.

Approving the settlement, High Court judge Mr Justice Owen paid tribute to Rhiannon and her family, including parents Suthathip and David and siblings Becky and Rhys.

"I would like to pay my own tribute to the whole family, but to Mrs Hayman in particular because it is she who has borne the heaviest burden and I know how difficult it has been at times," he said.

"I am deeply impressed by everything I have read about Rhiannon.

"She is a remarkable young lady and one cannot help but be moved by the positive attitude to life, the sheer zest for life, that shines out of the reports, despite the grievous misfortune she suffered at her birth.

Breach birth

"The settlement means that her financial future is secure."

Lawyers for the family had been set to argue in a full High Court trial that the hospital failed to provide a "reasonable standard of care" to both Mrs Hayman and Rhiannon.

Rhiannon was born on 4 November, 1994 in the breach position - feet first - after a delay in delivery. This led to a period of asphyxia, resulting in severe brain damage.

Paul Rees QC, for the health board, offered an "unreserved apology" to Rhiannon, who appeared in court.

Speaking after the hearing, Mrs Hayman said the effect of her daughter's disability had been "devastating" on the entire family.

24-hour care

"Money cannot change what has happened to Rhiannon. However, we hope that it will fund her complex needs for many years to come," she said.

"No amount of money will compensate for the fact that she will be unable to lead a normal life like her brother and sister, go out by herself, leave home and live independently and start a family of her own.

"Rhiannon is a very focused, intelligent, happy and sociable girl.

"She loves playing with her brother and sister and listening to different types of music.

"Rhiannon lives her life to the full and the money she is going to receive will help give her the life she deserves.

"As a family, we are relieved that this compensation will enable her to find the equipment, living costs and 24-hour care which she will need for the rest of her life."

ABM University Health Board offered its "unreserved apologies" to the family for the failures by the former Bro Morgannwg NHS Trust in the management of Mrs Hayman's labour.

"We would like to give our reassurances that we strive to learn lessons from events such as these and that our highest priority is patient safety," said a statement.

"Sadly, there is nothing the health board can now do to change the very regrettable outcome of Rhiannon's birth, but we hope the settlement will enable her to receive the ongoing care she needs."

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