‘An absolute disgrace’

Gerard and Mary Costello leave the Four Courts yesterday with their children — from left, Pat, Grace, Tadhg, and Kate — after Tadhg settled his case against the HSE for €2.8m. Picture: Collins

Mary and Gerard Costello risked everything they owned to bring the HSE to task over the brain damage their child suffered during his birth at Kerry General Hospital.

Twice the HSE took away their son’s medical card during their near nine-year battle after Tadhg suffered profound brain injury at birth. The HSE continued to fight the family all the way to the High Court despite the consultant obstetrician acknowledging the wrong months after the birth and crying with the family.

At the High Court yesterday, the HSE apologised to the Costellos, from Killorglin, Co Kerry.

The Costellos, who settled their action against the HSE with a €2.8m interim payout, said the apology was “incomplete and unsatisfactory”. They branded the admission of liability, coming nine years after the birth, as “an absolute disgrace”.

Tadhg, who has cerebral palsy, cannot walk or speak, but his laughter and smile lit up the Four Courts yesterday.

The Costellos have battled on the legal front and looked after their son without any support since his birth in 2006. They are now hoping the €2.8m interim settlement will give Tadhg all the help and care he needs.

The HSE had not admitted liability until February this year.

Mrs Costello told Mr Justice Kevin Cross yesterday that the family had been treated very badly for the last nine years.

Six months after Tadhg was born, she said the consultant obstetrician in the case had, in a private meeting, spoken to them, acknowledged the wrong, and cried, but that it took nine years for the HSE to admit liability.

“It was very hurtful that the HSE defended the case against us. We were trying to deal with the grief of what had happened, and for them not to admit liability added insult to injury. We were trying to fight it emotionally and financially” Mrs Costello told the judge.

Tadhg, through his mother, had sued the HSE over the circumstances of his birth at Kerry General Hospital on May 25, 2006. The court heard the admission of liability from the HSE came after the family threatened to seek aggravated damages.

Outside court, Mrs Costello said the apology offered was incomplete. “It does not state they added insult to injury. It is not acceptable what we went through. Tadhg was born on May 25, 2006. Liability was not admitted until February 24, 2015. We were put under stress emotionally and financially.”

She added. “During that time Tadhg’s medical card was taken from him on two occasions.”

She said they had done their absolute best but, had the HSE admitted liability earlier, Tadhg would have been able to receive earlier intervention.

Mrs Costello said it was their dearest wish that no other family would have to endure such a period of intense suffering caused by the inexcusable delay in accepting responsibility for an injury to an innocent child.

“You walk out of the hospital, you are dealing with the aftermath. They have effectively closed the door on you. They did not give us any explanation. We met with the obstetrician shortly afterwards and he openly admitted that there was wrong. He cried with us. We expected, as a result of that, that an admission of liability would follow, but an admission of liability did not follow until nine years later which is an absolute disgrace.”

Read more of today’s news here

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