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Katie Gollop QC acts for the successful claimant in case with significant public health implications thought to be the first to deal with the standard of care to be expected of health visitors

23rd November 2020

In XM v Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, Katie Gollop QC represented the successful claimant, a baby who suffered permanent, catastrophic brain injuries at 6 months as a result of the defendant Trust’s negligence.

The claimant’s brain injuries were caused by intracranial pressure arising from undiagnosed hydrocephalus, which was in turn due to a benign tumour, present since birth, which over-produced cerebrospinal fluid. By the time the brain injuries occurred, the claimant’s head was so large that it was off the centile chart.

The defendant Trust was responsible for the health visitors charged with assessing the claimant’s weight and head circumference between 10-14 days and 6 months after he was born.

The case is significant because:

  • it appears to be the first clinical negligence case to deal with the role, responsibilities and standard of care to be expected of health visitors;
  • it also appears to be the first case to deal with head circumference growth assessments in the first weeks and months of life;
  • unusually, the defendant’s expert health visitor’s evidence was found to be illogical in Bolitho terms in more than one regard;
  • the findings on breach of duty are important from a public health perspective because they suggest that the basic principles of assessment of rate of growth of the a baby’s head may be misunderstood by some health visitors;
  • the judge’s observations about the importance of the 6-8 week GP examination, and the lack of any national system for identifying babies who have missed it, are also of general public importance.

See the judgment which was handed down today here.


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