Payment system ‘needs reform’, family say, as girl with cerebral palsy gets extra €1.6m

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Another interim payment of €1.6m has been approved by the High Court for a girl with cerebral palsy, bringing her settlement to date to around €4m.

In approving the settlement, High Court Chief Justice Mrs Justice Mary Irvine wished 16-year-old Ruby Leanne McCandless well for the next four years.

Ruby has dyskinetic cerebral palsy and will need care for the rest of her life. She suffered her injuries because her mother was not referred to hospital with symptoms of pre-eclampsia, it has been claimed.

Previously, the court heard that Ruby’s mother, Christina McDaid, suffered from high blood pressure at the end of her pregnancy and should have been immediately referred to hospital.

Through her mother, Ruby, of Foxwood, Gleneely, Co. Donegal, sued the HSE in relation to the care Ms McDaid received at the end of her pregnancy in 2006.

It was claimed that there had been failures to diagnose and treat pre-eclampsia at the first reasonable opportunity and to get her admitted to hospital to have her high blood pressure properly managed.

In 2014 the High Court approved a settlement which included an interim payment of €1.45million to cover care until that year. In 2018, an additional interim payment of €1 million was approved.

When the case returned to court on Thursday, Des O’Neill SC, on behalf of the family, asked the court to approve a further payment of 1.592 million euros.

Madam Justice Irvine said it seemed like a “really good settlement” that would tide her over for the next few years. Hearing that this four-year payout is bigger than the previous one mainly because the cost of care has risen dramatically, she said it was only right that the important work of carers be appropriately enhanced.

Outside of court, family lawyer David O’Malley said the family believes the current system of periodic payment orders which requires families to return to court every few years “needs ‘to be reformed’.

The legislation is “unenforceable and must be indexed to wage inflation”, he said on their behalf.

“Interim payments and lump sums are both shrouded in uncertainty. I implore Minister Helen McEntee to immediately remedy this unworkable legislation to ensure the certainty of moving forward for catastrophically injured children.

Background to the case

The court previously heard that Ruby’s mother was due to give birth on March 30, 2006. Her blood pressure was said to be normal until March 28, when she attended her last prenatal check-up at the Community Hospital in Cardonagh.

During the appointment, it was claimed, it was noticed that she had a blood pressure problem. She reportedly developed swelling around her ankles in the days leading up to the appointment. His blood pressure was taken four times at the hospital, it was claimed.

When she was examined, a doctor said her high blood pressure was a borderline case and told her to see her GP on March 31, it was claimed. Her ankles and face were still swollen the next day and she had a headache.

On March 30, her right hand began to shake, her face began to sag, and she began to lose power over her tongue. An ambulance was called but Ms McDaid was unconscious.

She was rushed to Letterkenny General Hospital 45 miles away, suffered a series of severe pre-eclamptic seizures and there was a lack of oxygen for the unborn baby. Ruby then gave birth by Caesarean section and spent her first 11 days in intensive care.

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