THE Southend family of a boy left with devastating disabilities after his heart stopped before he was born are claiming millions in damages from the NHS.

Josh Tippett suffered catastrophic brain damage due to complications during his mother’s labour at St Thomas’ Hospital, in London, in November 2005.

He was left with cerebral palsy and epilepsy, as well as a catalogue of serious disabilities which confine him to a wheelchair.

Josh will be dependant on round-the-clock care for the rest of his life.

Following his birth, his parents, Karyn and Martin, of Lincoln Chase, Southend, launched a High Court claim for compensation from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital NHS Trust.

The family is asking for a damages payout running into the millions in order to fund his extensive care needs.

Opening the case before Mr Justice Dingemans on Monday, Martin Spencer, QC, said more should have been done to monitor Mrs Tippett’s “high-risk’’ pregnancy.

Thinking she was in labour, she went to hospital in Southend on November 3, 2005, then travelled to St Thomas’, in Lambeth, London, by public transport.

She was actually suffering with Braxton Hicks, muscle contractions which occur before a mother-to-be goes into full labour.

However, around lunchtime on November 8, her baby suffered bradycardia – very low heart rate – and was delivered by caesarean section.

By the time he was born, his heart rate had hit zero and he had been starved of oxygen for some time, causing his devastating disabilities.

Mr Spencer said Mrs Tippett should have been referred to an obstetrician hours earlier when a heart scan returned “non-reassuring’’ results.

It was already known Josh had a heart abnormality and monitoring showed the foetal heart rate dropped when Mrs Tippett had the contractions, suggesting he would not cope with a normal delivery, the court heard.

Had his mum been referred to a specialist, a caesarean section would have been ordered then, eliminating the chance of brain damage, said the barrister.

Mr Spencer said it was the family’s case “that there would, or should, have been a low threshold for (caesarean) delivery, given particularly that this child was going to need specialist care upon delivery because of the cardiac abnormality.

“Had there been done what we say should have been done, that would have led to a decision to deliver and the baby would have been delivered before the bradycardia."

For the NHS Trust, Philippa Whipple, QC, said it denied liability for Josh's injuries.

She said hospital staff could not have referred Mrs Tippett to an obstetrician because she had disconnected the scanning machine and left the ward.

Mrs Tippett vehemently denies those claims.

The hearing, expected to run into next week, continues.