Refusal by Bedford Hospital to transfer baby to specialist unit results in catastrophic brain damage | Fieldfisher
Skip to main content
Case Study

Refusal by Bedford Hospital to transfer baby to specialist unit results in catastrophic brain damage

Paul McNeil won an admission of liability from Bedford Hospitals NHS Trust for failings in neonatal care at Bedford General Hospital that left a now 8-year-old girl with severe brain damage.

The baby was born prematurely but in good condition by emergency caesarean section at 31+3 days gestation. Her father, who is a Paediatrician, was concerned about the ability of Bedford Hospital, a level 1 paediatric unit, to care for his daughter given her gestation. He contacted the Neonatal team at Luton and Dunstable Hospital, a more equipped level 3 unit, who confirmed that there was a cot available for his baby to be transferred to Luton and Dunstable Hospital after birth.

When the baby was born, the doctors at Bedford Hospital refused to transfer the baby to Luton and Dunstable Hospital on grounds that she was in a stable condition.

Sadly, the baby started to experience periods of high temperature, elevated bilirubin levels vomiting and other signs of infection.

Eleven days after birth on Christmas day, she suffered a collapse and permanent brain damage. The following day, she was transferred to Luton and Dunstable Hospital, a level 3 paediatric unit, for specialist neonatal care.

The case against Bedford General is that the care provided in the special care unit was sub-standard, up to and including the time the baby collapsed, and that she should have been transferred to Luton and Dunstable Hospital earlier for specialist care. Failure to do so contributed to her suffering brain injury.

Of particular concern was the failure to listen to her parents' concerns, the lack of experienced staff involved in the baby's care, the failure to recognise and manage her deteriorating condition evidenced by abnormal clinical observations and biochemical markers and the failure to acknowledge and discuss with the parents that she needed level 3 care. Had she been treated correctly and transferred earlier to Luton and Dunstable she would have likely not suffered brain injury.

The girl is now severely disabled, with global developmental delay, severe learning difficulties, mobility issues and problems with her sight and hearing. She lacks capacity and needs a high-level of care and support.

Paul McNeil issued proceedings against the Trust, which admitted liability in that had the appropriate management and treatment been provided, the girl would likely not have suffered brain injury.

We will now collect specialist evidence as to the girl's future and life-long care needs to prepare a quantum schedule for settlement to be agreed.

The girl's parents commented: "We are extremely grateful for the compassion, support and professionalism provided by our Solicitor Mr Paul McNeil. We would like to take this opportunity to give our sincere thanks and appreciation to you and your team over the duration of our daughter's cerebral palsy case. Paul has worked tirelessly to ensure the best possible outcome for our daughter.  We would highly recommend Paul McNeil from Fieldfisher".

Contact us

For further information about birth injury claims, please call Paul McNeil on 03304606804 or email


All enquiries are completely free of charge and we will investigate all funding options for you including no win no fee. Find out more about no win no fee claims.

Sign up to our email digest

Click to subscribe or manage your email preferences.