By Tim Healy
The family of a girl born with profound disabilities have called for a mandatory obligation on the HSE to tell parents when a child was injured as a result of medical negligence.
Margaret Hurley (18), from Skibbereen, Co Cork, who has cerebral palsy, yesterday settled her High Court action against Erinville Hospital, Western Road, Co Cork, for €11m for the circumstances of her 2000 birth. She has spastic quadriplegia, cannot speak and has to use a wheelchair.
Margaret's parents Claire and Gerald (51) called for a mandatory obligation on the HSE to tell parents when their child has been injured as a result of medical negligence.
The couple, from Lisheen, in West Cork, have three other children: twins - a boy and a girl - and another boy.
Ms Hurley said mandatory reporting obligations had to be backed by criminal sanctions.
"As a newly married young couple we were looking forward with joy and anticipation to the birth of our daughter in the year 2000.
"Due to my high blood pressure and the fact I was 14 days overdue, I should have been induced earlier. Sadly, Margaret was born with profound physical and intellectual disabilities. The extent of these disabilities became apparent as she grew older. We never thought her disabilities were as a result of medical negligence nor, more importantly, were we told by the hospital.
"The HSE clearly knew as is shown by their payment of €11m to Margaret. Thank God for the court system."
Lyndy Cantillon, partner with Cantillons Solicitors, who advised and led Margaret's medical negligence claim, said this failure to inform the parents added to Margaret's suffering.
"The severity of Margaret's condition could have been alleviated by early intervention and therapies available at the time," she said in a statement on behalf of the family.
"Margaret sadly did not avail of these," she said.
She said Margaret's mother was a 32-year-old public patient at Erinville, expecting her first child when problems occurred. "The young teacher was 14 days overdue and also had high blood pressure, but it was decided not to induce birth. Claire Hurley's daughter, Margaret, was born with profound disabilities on March 1, 2000."
Ms Hurley had to give up her job teaching to care for Margaret full time, while her husband continued to farm.
"It was only in 2014, when Margaret was 14, that her mother read about another child we represented with similar devastating disabilities.
"No one in the HSE had told Claire there might be medical negligence involved in Margaret's birth."
Yesterday Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told the settlement against the HSE was without admission of liability.