Brain-damaged Northampton schoolgirl gets £19m compensation payout from Oxford University Hospitals

Eleven-year-old Megan Ryall has received £19m in compensation from Oxford University Hospitals Trust following mistakes that were made during her birth.
Eleven-year-old Megan Ryall has received £19m in compensation from Oxford University Hospitals Trust following mistakes that were made during her birth. Credit: Family photo

A schoolgirl with cerebral palsy has been awarded £19m in compensation by an NHS trust which sent her mother home when she arrived at hospital in labour.

Megan Ryall suffered a catastrophic brain injury when her mum Sarah Ryall gave birth in 2010.

The then-28-year-old, from Northampton, had arrived at hospital 13 days after her due date having started to have contractions. But despite telling staff she believed her baby was moving less, she was sent home.

Oxford University Hospitals Trust has now agreed that, had Ms Ryall's concerns not been ignored, Megan would have been delivered sooner and would not have been left with serious health needs.

Megan, who is now 11, has significant learning and communication difficulties and will need round-the-clock care for the rest of her life.

Her mother, 39, said she was "relieved that Megan will now have the care that she needs and deserves" adding: "Now the case is closed, Megan will have a lifetime home that is safe and adapted to her needs and she will have 24-hour specialist care and support throughout her life.

"It will also enable her to enjoy the often-overlooked, simple pleasures of life such as a special-needs tricycle for her to explore the great outdoors and access to symbol software that helps her to read and communicate."

Megan Ryall suffered a catastrophic head injury when she was born and has cerebral palsy. Credit: Family photo.

Megan's mother had to quit her job as a scientist so she could care for her daughter while her father took a less demanding, lower-paid job so he could be on hand whenever needed.

Lawyers representing the family said the £19m compensation payout reflected Megan's complex needs.

"Megan's cognitive and neurological functions mean she will need permanent care and support and will not be able to live independently," said Kym Provan, a partner at medical negligence firm Enable Law.

Ms Ryall said she hoped sharing her story would give other parents the confidence to speak up when they have concerns.

"Megan was let down by the maternity care system," she said. "I voiced my concerns during my final days of pregnancy and was not listened to.

"I now want other expectant mothers to trust their own instincts and to feel empowered to voice any concerns they may have about their pregnancy, in the hope that no other child has to go through the same trauma as Megan."

In a statement, the Oxford University Hospitals Trust apologised for the standard of care Megan and her mother had received which "was not in accordance with the high standards that the trust and our staff aim to deliver".

Prof Meghana Pandit, chief medical officer, added: "We recognise that the injuries have been very distressing and significant for this patient and her family, and that their pursuit of this claim would have been an extremely difficult time for them.

"While the settlement of this case can never truly compensate for what has happened, I very much hope that the settlement that has been reached will support this patient's present, and future care and support needs."