To think this mother deserves to keep this money?

(125 Posts)
SameDifference Fri 17-May-13 01:18:54

Hi all,

You may have heard of the mother who has been asked to repay over half the compensation payment she received to care for her son, who had spina bifida which the hospital did not spot during her pregnancy, after his death.

As a disabled person who has heard of several people getting similar payments, I've never heard of anyone having to repay any such money in this situation.

I don't think she should have to repay the money. I've written on the case at my website: samedifference1.com/2013/05/16/mother-asked-to-repay-compensation-after-son-with-spina-bifida-dies/

This is not advertising for my site- I simply want opinions from people who hopefully have no personal connection to disability.

After writing the linked post, I read a Daily Mail article saying that the compensation was fought for because the mother was not given the choice to terminate her pregnancy.

squeakytoy Fri 17-May-13 10:21:02

The money should be repaid. It was for the ongoing care of her son who sadly is no longer in need of it. I dont see why she needed to buy such a big house either.

chandellina Fri 17-May-13 10:21:56

"Wrongful birth" just sounds so wrong. So not being told to abort gives you a payout but choosing to have the baby doesn't?

DeepPurple Fri 17-May-13 10:28:44

She no longer needs the money. The money wasn't to compensate her, it was for him. She should pay it back.

bakingaddict Fri 17-May-13 10:47:21

Well the fact that the NHS had paid £750,000 shows that there was obvious mis-management of ante-natal care to this woman.

I'm surprised that there seems little in the way of monetary advice from the solicitors to the woman in question. I thought that in a big-payout like this that the proportion of the compensation for the ongoing care costs of the child would have to be put in a trust. How she has managed to blow all the money that should have been somehow ring-fenced for ongoing care till adulthood is unusual. Agree that the NHS has every right legally to try and claw back this part of the compensation

BalloonSlayer Fri 17-May-13 10:56:25

Surely the money was to support the child and help fund the extra help he would need to cope with his disabilities? It would have been based on how much a year was needed to support him multiplied by an estimated life expectancy. I would be surprised if somewhere in the terms of the settlement there was not a clause which stated that it would have to be paid back in the event of his premature death.

I have not read the article btw because I think it might make me cry.

However, I would say that if the family moved to a home where there was lots of room for a downstairs bedroom and bathroom, I don't think they should be expected to sell it and move to somewhere smaller to pay the money back, I think that should be written off by the NHS.

squeakytoy Fri 17-May-13 10:58:54

"However, I would say that if the family moved to a home where there was lots of room for a downstairs bedroom and bathroom, I don't think they should be expected to sell it and move to somewhere smaller to pay the money back"

She is a single woman. There is no other family.

pigletmania Fri 17-May-13 10:59:50

I agree with midnight scribbler totally, it is one of those risks tat you take when having children, what would she have done 60 years ago! It's not the NHS fault she ad a boy with a disability!

However I agree with booyhoo, that money has already been budgeted for, and some of it was also compensation to her for te scan failing to detect spina bifida, and the stress that she had To go through.

DoJo Fri 17-May-13 10:59:57

Depending on where you live £450k is not the hugest amount of money for a house.

It's a 5 bedroom detached house, which is fairly big and probably wasn't the best investment of the money given that she was always going to have to fund his care after the age of 10, as supposedly that was what the award was due to cover. However, I can appreciate that buying a dream house and never having to worry about mortgage payments was probably a big weight off her mind when it came to focussing on her son's care, although I think saying she might be 'homeless' is a bit misleading given that there will be a hefty amount left over when it's sold even after the money is repaid to the NHS.

DeWe Fri 17-May-13 11:00:02

I don't understand why the NHS pays out because they didn't notice. If it's mismanagement on someone's part, fine, but I have a dc with a congential condition and the costs are the same whether you know beforehand or afterwards.

Personally I think it would be better if the money is going to be spent on housing that the NHS buys and adapts the house that they can live in for X years at, say cheap or no rent. The NHS then has a house they can then either use for someone else in that position or sell and use the money to help other people, maybe another child in the same position.
Also (speaking from experience) the NHS has more experience in adaptions that would be useful. I know when dd2 was diagnosed (at scan) one of the things I did was panicky looking round the house thinking of adaptions that would "need" to be done. We didn't have the money, and none of them were done-and actually none of them were needed. i was overthinking what would need to be done.

The house did look rather bigger than necessary for two people, and if they would require her to pay back the money if she had saved it, it would be giving a wrong message to others in that situation. People would feel that they would be best to spend as much as possible, which then could mean that they ran out of needed money later, causing different issues.

pigletmania Fri 17-May-13 11:14:04

It is mean to throw her out of her home, te government will end up paying her housing and income support. dojo she did not buy a dream home but a house suitable for a severely disabled child in a wheelchaire. It would have to be large to enable the wheelchair to get about properly and for a lift to be installed so tat te boy can access all of the house.

bakingaddict Fri 17-May-13 11:32:50

Even if she doesn't get back the full amount of money she spent on the house coupled with the adaption costs she still has a substantial asset and isn't likely to be needing housing or income support if she sells. I don't think she is quite on the breadline

It does not take into consideration how much funds had been used especially to set the house up caring for the child at home, and how much was supposed to be for continuing care.

I dont agree with claiming the money back. But if the money were to be repaid, they would have to work out how much had been spent on setting the family up in order to care for him, and how much it would cost annually, and then only claim back the amount for care over the remaining years. Not the set up costs, not for the years care was given, but only claim back the amount allocating care for the years he did not live.

So, hypothetically speaking, if this was a care of a £20 k annual salary for a carer, rather than mum, they should claim back for £20kx the years this "salary" was not needed.

HopingItllBeOK Fri 17-May-13 12:07:57

One could also argue that in determining how much to 'claw back', consideration should be given to the mother's previous earning potential and the effect that being out of the job Market for the time she was caring for her son had on her ability to get back to that level and the difference should be ring fenced and put in trust to be paid out annually to her until she resumes her previous earnings.

DoJo Fri 17-May-13 12:09:22

pigletmania
I went to have a brief look on Rightmove to see how much house you can get for that money in that area, and her house is actually on there for sale. It certainly looks more like a dream home than one purchased purely for its practicality for a wheelchair user. I'm not saying it's not suitably adapted to his needs, but five bedrooms, two with en suites and one with a dressing room, a formal dining room and a completely refitted kitchen is a little more than I imagine would be needed just to care for a child with disabilities. I don't begrudge her at all, but I do think that she possibly overreached with her choice of house and would have found herself in difficulties when it came to paying for his ongoing care once the money ran out anyway.

coldwater1 Fri 17-May-13 12:16:51

I'm on the fence with this one. I know how horrendous it is to lose a child so wouldn't want to comment on what i think is the right thing to do about the compensation.

I had my first child at 19, he was born with a GBS infection that was missed by the midwives/doctors for four days, even though he was clearly unwell and i kept telling the medical professionals he was ill, i was a 'young first time mum'. By the time they listened to me, he was rushed straight to intensive care fitting. He was found to be totally brain damaged, blind and deaf and then developed a rare type of Epilepsy from the brain trauma. He spent a month in hospital and then i bought him home to care for him for 3 months before he died. Everyone told me to sue the NHS but i didn't, i didn't want money from the death of my child. I just wanted to deal with it my way.

squeakytoy Fri 17-May-13 12:18:34

"It is mean to throw her out of her home, te government will end up paying her housing and income support"

Rubbish.. she is 33 years old and there is no reason why she wont be able to work, plus she also has the equity from her house sale too. She wont be on the streets.

xylem8 Fri 17-May-13 12:22:46

YABU!
Of course she should pay it back!She doesn't need such a big house now.

WorraLiberty Fri 17-May-13 12:26:03

It's such a sad situation but I can totally understand why they want the money back.

It was paid for ongoing care and that's no longer the case.

landofsoapandglory Fri 17-May-13 12:28:05

I don't like the term 'wrongful birth'. It doesn't sit right with me. I think she should pay it back. I would be surprised if there wasn't a clause, or some small print somewhere that stated this when it was awarded.

I have just had a look at the house on Rightmove because I am a nosy cow and I live in an adapted house, paid for by an outside agency, next door is adapted for someone totally confined to a wheelchair and I wanted to see how it could be done well. I have to say it doesn't look adapted at all. There is no mention of a through floor lift, there is no wet room just shower cubicles and a bath, the front door and patio doors have a small step to each and the patio is not level to the garden.

As for space, I have a family of four,as do nextdoor, they have a through floor lift in their dining room and I have a stair lift, we cope with far, far less. I can totally see why she wanted the house, it is absolutely gorgeous, who wouldn't?

DoJo Fri 17-May-13 12:31:58

landofsoapandglory I thought that too, although I don't know enough about it to know what to look for, there didn't seem to be any obvious adaptations and there was no mention of any in the description.

flanbase Fri 17-May-13 12:32:30

If she got a lump sum then it's hers to keep. If she got money on a schedule to provide for her son then she doesn't need the money now sadly so why would she need future payments.

To the poster who said they should have maybe been monitoring her closer as she was at higher risk of birth defects due to epilepsy medication, why? I don't think they do that, I am pregnant with my second child and have been on epilepsy meds for both pregnancies and have never had any additional screening/monitoring because of it.

If I had a child with Spina Bifida or similar I wouldn't expect to receive compensation as there is only so much they can tell ante-natally.

But she has received the money.

I do think it's a bit of a kick in the teeth to ask her for it back though, this must be an extremely difficult time for her and I can imagine being forced to move from the home she shared with her Son being pretty heartbreaking.

BearsInMotion Fri 17-May-13 12:35:25

Another one who doesn't "get" the compensation thing - costs of care are the same and are provided for by the state, why should one family be given compensation because a condition was theoretically preventable, while another child with the same needs, just different birth scenario gets nothing?

Khaleese Fri 17-May-13 12:43:32

Such a difficult moral dilema.

I think the trust are at fault for not drip feeding the cash through. A compensation payment should be full and final or x per year with a chunk upfront to buy the house, car, equipment you need.

I think the house is excessive for two people, disability or not. A nice bungalow would have been more appropriate surely.

I'm not really comfortable with suing the NHS for situations like this. I went for my scans, i knew that they are not 100%, nothing is.

She should pay it back, others will benefit. I hope that the trust learn from this.

Goldmandra Fri 17-May-13 12:45:36

The house is large and luxurious and I don't blame them for wanting to live in it and I understand that they must be feeling sad that they have to leave the place they shared with him.

However, the family must have been well aware of this possible scenario when they bought the house and they chose to put themselves in this position. This was a child with significant health problems and they would have known that his condition could easily become life threatening. The terms and conditions of such a payout would have been put in writing to them at the time.

The money was only to pay for his first ten years of care so it is reasonable that none was put on one side for his adulthood.

If this money were, in part, compensation for the parents they would be reasonable to keep it but it wasn't. It was to cover care costs that the family would not have incurred had they been able to terminate the pregnancy. The money allowed them to live in a much nicer house than they could otherwise have afforded. They are no longer entitled to the money or the house.

It's harsh but so are lots of other situations like this and many, many parents of children with disabilities are left in far worse financial situations than this lady will have to cope with once the money is repaid.

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