NHS payout will '˜make a big difference' to family

A couple are looking forward to a brighter future for their son after being awarded a £2.5m NHS payout.

Wednesday, 19th October 2016, 9:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 5:22 pm

Sheila and Maurice Atherton hope to move house and get round-the-clock care for their son Peter thanks to the settlement.

Peter, now 47, suffered catastrophic brain damage when he was starved of oxygen at birth at Billinge Hospital.

He has cerebral palsy affecting all four of his limbs, problems with his memory, communication and understanding, and learning difficulties.

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Mrs Atherton, of Canberra Road, Marsh Green, said: “We are as excited as anything. We have waited a long time for it.

“Now we can get all sorts. He has an electric bed but we can get better things for him. He can have a better life.”

The money will allow the family to move to a house with larger rooms, so that it is easier for Peter to be moved around.

Mr and Mrs Atherton currently look after their son, with carers visiting three times a week, but they will be able to get full-time care.

It will mean that for the first time since he was born, they will be able to get a full night’s sleep.

Mrs Atherton, 71, said: “This money has made a big difference to us. It’s changed our lives really and Peter’s life. Peter can have the best of everything.”

Mr and Mrs Atherton, who have another son John, 49, described Peter as “a happy lad” and said it is “a joy” to look after him.

However, the couple do believe it would have been better if they had received the settlement earlier.

Mr Atherton, 76, said: “The house would have been bigger and it would have been easier for everyone. We could have had bigger rooms and wider doors. There are little things that make all the difference.”

The couple sought legal advice a number of years ago to see if Peter could receive compensation.

But medical records were not available after 25 years.

However, the case was revived after Mrs Atherton read a newspaper article in 2008 about another case involving missing records and was put in touch with the solicitor.

Through his mother, Peter sued the NHS Commisioning Group, with his lawyers claiming his injuries were the result of negligence.

A doctor’s notes were recovered in 2014 which stated Peter was born pale and asphyxiated and the High Court was told the notes indicated it had taken 20 minutes to resuscitate him.

Without admitting liability, the trust agreed to settle the case for a £2.5m lump sum.

Mr and Mrs Atherton thanked solicitors Janet and Richard Baker, barrister Simeon Maskrey QC and medical experts for their efforts.

They also praised doctors and nurses at Wigan Infirmary and GPs at Bradshaw Medical Centre in Orrell who have cared for Peter.