Sick: Children harmed by hospital
mistakes could have 25% of
compensation snatched by Government
Tory-led coalition wants a share of the payouts awarded to kids who suffer brain damage
Children who suffer brain
damage at birth due to clinical
negligence could have a
quarter of their compensation
swiped by the Government.
The Tory-led Coalition is
considering a move to take 25%
of damages awarded by the
courts to families of babies
harmed by hospital mistakes.
The proposal – which if given
the green light could come in
as early as April 2013 – has
been branded heartless by
It comes as the Government
aims to slash the legal aid
budget by £350million.
Currently, families of brain-
damaged babies who win
payouts from hospitals using
legal aid get to keep the full
amount to help support their
But under the new proposal,
the Government could take a
quarter of the compensation
and plough it back into the legal aid budget to pay for other court cases.
Sheema Luca, whose two-year-old son Massimo has cerebral palsy, is taking legal
action against the hospital where he was born.
Mrs Luca, 36, of Chingford, North East London, said: “I’m shocked by the
proposals. Every penny won in these cases is vital to families like mine.”
Peter Walsh, chief executive of charity Action Against Medical Accidents, said: “It
is outrageous and heartless to rob brain-damaged babies of money they need.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “We are still committed to supporting these
The Government performed a u-turn earlier this year after originally suggesting it
was to cut all legal aid for families of babies who suffer brain damage.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) later vowed to continue to make legal aid available
for these families after the move sparked widespread outrage. But campaigners
now fear the MoJ could grab hundreds of thousands of pounds awarded to
“vulnerable” families who need it to support their child.
Mr Walsh added: “Parliament was led to believe a major concession had been
made to keep these children in scope for legal aid, but these proposals would
make that meaningless.
“We are talking about an extra tax on the most needy and vulnerable in society
A MoJ source insisted that no final decision had been made on the proposals.
Lisa Turan, chief executive of the Child Brain Injury Trust, said: “Compensation
awarded to families affected by brain injury, through no fault of their own, should
stay with the family for the benefit of the child affected.
“Their future will depend on expert support, services and equipment that
unfortunately are very expensive and are required for the life of the child.”
Richard Hawkes, chief executive of disability charity Scope, added: “These
payouts are scant compensation for families that have been the victim of a serious
“But they make a difference when it comes to overcoming some of the many
hurdles that are put in their way. It is unacceptable for the Government to start
diverting it into their coffers.”