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Trust liable as ‘language barrier led to brain damage’

Medics ‘ignored’
mother’s concerns
TRAGIC OUTCOME: Medics ‘ignored’ mother’s concerns

A SRI LANKAN refugee has won a legal battle against the NHS after her child was brain-damaged, as hospital staff did not explain the importance of feeding a newborn and “effectively ignored” her con­cerns about the crying baby.

Nilujan Rajatheepan was deliv­ered by caesarean section at King George Hospital in Goodmayes, London, in July 2009.

The child’s mother, Sinthiya, a Tamil refugee, was 21 when Nilu­jan was born and spoke only a 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 which result­ed in brain injuries. The child, now 8, has cerebral palsy.

Last week, judge Martin McK­enna ruled that Barking, Haver­ing and Redbridge NHS Founda­tion Trust in London was liable.

McKenna said midwives had failed to hire an interpreter to tell the young mother the importance of feeding her baby, and were negligent in failing to tackle the language barrier.

He said the compensation fig­ure will be assessed at a later date.

Wendy Matthews, director of midwifery at the NHS trust, said: “We would like to say sorry again to Nilujan and the Rajatheepan family and express our sincere sympathies to them.

“We are considering the impli­cations of the judge’s ruling in this case. Although we have made huge improvements since this in­cident in 2009, we will take the opportunity to see if there are any more lessons about our postnatal care that we can learn.”