Calum English: Brain-damaged child case settled for €22.5m

18 September 2020

The family of a boy who suffered severe brain damage after the Cork hospital he was born in failed to diagnose meningitis has settled a legal action for €22.5m (£20.6m).
Cork University Maternity Hospital apologised to Calum English, who is now eight, and his parents.
His mother called on the Irish government to reform the health service and provide support for children with additional needs.
Calum was born on 1 August 2012.
Following his birth, he was very unwell, with signs of infection. He was showing excessive sleepiness, crying and moaning.
However his parents say assessments, when he was one and two days old, were inadequate and there was a delay in diagnosing him and giving him antibiotics.
Group B streptococcal meningitis was eventually diagnosed and treated, but Calum suffered severe brain damage.
He has cerebral palsy and has multiple mobility and neurological difficulties. He will require extensive care for the rest of his life.
The hospital initially denied liability but on Tuesday issued an apology to Calum and his family.
It apologised unreservedly for the delay in diagnosing the infection and the injuries he suffered.
It said it had learned important lessons and continued to educate staff about the importance of “optimal communication and escalation” across all their multidisciplinary teams.

‘Sociable, chirpy child’

Speaking to High Court judge Mr Justice Cross, Calum’s mother, Linda Spillane, said it seemed unreal that they were sitting in the court and the judge was saying her son’s name.
She said it had taken a long time to come to terms with what had happened to him.
Ms Spillane said Calum’s little brother was four years old and she said it was already clear that he had surpassed Calum.
She said she wondered how Calum felt seeing his little brother walk across the fields, but she said Calum could not tell them.
Ms Spillane also told the court Calum had received no therapy for the past five months because of Covid-19 and had regressed.
Despite this, she said he was a sociable, chirpy child who was always willing to give it his best with his therapists.
She said she would like a team to be surrounding him who would work together and communicate to give him what he needed, and she said she was happy to know that if she and her husband were not here tomorrow, he would now be cared for in his own home with his family around him.

‘Good settlement’

Mr Justice Cross said it was a good settlement which would not be a bonus to anyone but would try to give Calum what he needed to live as normal a life as possible.
Such care, he said, was very expensive. He wished the family the best in the future.
Outside court, Ms Spillane said she was grateful they now had all the means to provide Calum with all the therapy that he requires.
Ms Spillane also said children with additional needs and their carers deserved respect and care in their communities.
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