A FAMILY has been paid more than £1.7million by Basildon Hospital after their daughter was born with catastrophic brain damage.

Niamh Ridgwell, now nine, from Grays, has the severest of cerebral palsy as a result of her brain being starved of oxygen shortly before she was born at the hospital ten years ago.

Hospital bosses had disputed that the brain damage Niamh suffered was due to errors made by midwifery staff.

But on Tuesday, a High Court judge disagreed and approved the huge settlement.

Sandra, Niahm’s mum, said: “We have been fighting repeatedly for justice for our daughter during the last nine years and never gave up.

“Thankfully our persistence, and that of our legal team at Irwin Mitchell, has finally paid off. This means we have at least the peace of mind that Niamh’s future care needs will be largely met by the settlement.”

During the early stages of labour on May 10, 2004, Peter and Sandra phoned the delivery suite at Basildon Hospital on three occasions from their home in Grays. They were concerned about an increased rate of contractions and constant pain.

But the couple were advised repeatedly by the midwives that Sandra should just take pain killers and have a hot bath at home.

The pain was so bad, though, that Sandra decided to admit herself to hospital at 3.35am, where abnormal heart readings were taken of Niamh.

Her heart was constantly slowing and at 4.16am her heart readings turned “pathological”.

About 45 minutes later, via an emergency caesarean, Niamh was born, but she was not in a good way.

The new born baby had suffered a feto-maternal haemorrhage - and Sandra had suffered a placental abruption.

It was found that if nurses had correctly advised Sandra to attend hospital immediately, Niamh could have been delivered two hours earlier, avoiding her brain being starved of oxygen.

Sandra added: “I had a healthy pregnancy with no complications and both my husband and I were so excited to be welcoming our first born child into the world.

“The advice was always to make contact with the delivery suite first before going into the hospital which is what I did.

“It is too late for our daughter and for us as a family, but I would like to think that lessons can be learnt from this case by all parties concerned so that future parents and newborn children are not exposed to the same fate.”

Sandra and Peter had called on the help of medical law experts Irwin Mitchell to fight the case.

Auriana Griffiths, a partner at the firm, said: “This was a very difficult case to pursue as the hospital Trust insisted that the feto-maternal haemorrhage Niamh suffered was the sole cause of the brain damage and therefore could not have been avoided.

“However, we remained determined to fight for justice for Niamh.”