NHS trust admits responsibility after failings starved baby of oxygen

Health trust pays out and admits full responsibility after failings starved baby of oxygen to leave him severely disabled

  • Staff at Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley switched off heart rate monitor in birth
  • Josiah’s heart rate decelerated five times before and he was born without a pulse
  • Parents secured undisclosed settlement after son diagnosed with cerebral palsy

A health trust has admitted ‘full responsibility’ for failings which starved a baby of oxygen and left him severely disabled.

Staff at Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley, West Midlands switched off a heart rate monitoring machine for 100 minutes as Lotti Ellis gave birth to Josiah, now aged 11. 

Josiah, whose heart rate had decelerated five times before the machine was turned off, was born without any pulse and had to be resuscitated. He was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Lawyers acting for his parents Marc, 52, and Lotti, 44, have now secured an undisclosed settlement from Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, which previously admitted liability.   

The payout will fund the specialist support, care and therapies which Josiah, who has learning and speech difficulties and is wheelchair reliant, requires.  

Staff at Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley, West Midlands switched off a heart rate monitoring machine for 100 minutes as Lotti Ellis gave birth to Josiah (pictured in 2009), now aged 11

Mr and Mrs Ellis were living in Sedgley, West Midlands when their eldest son was born in January 2009. 

Speaking of Josiah’s birth, Mrs Ellis said: ‘What should have been the happiest time of our lives was awful. The labour was really distressing. As soon as Josiah was delivered he was taken away to be resuscitated. At first Marc and I were completely in the dark.

‘Seeing Josiah afterwards in the special care baby unit while being told he may still die was heartbreaking. During my pregnancy Marc and I had pictured so many times what it would be like meeting Josiah for the first time. What we had hoped for was nothing like the reality.

‘Going home without him was really difficult. We were so relieved when he was finally allowed home but we knew that he was not developing properly.’      

Following a number of tests, Josiah was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 18 months old.


Josiah (left with father Marc Ellis and right now), whose heart rate had decelerated five times before the machine was turned off, was born without any pulse and had to be resuscitated

Lawyers acting for his parents Marc, 52, and Lotti, 44, have now secured an undisclosed settlement from Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, which previously admitted liability

The mother, who now lives with her family in Surrey, added her life is now ‘dedicated to helping Josiah’, who has an ‘infectious smile.’    

‘Coming to terms with what the future holds for Josiah has been difficult but we feel so blessed that he is our son. It is almost as though he was given a second lease of life from God, whilst we get a chance to love and hold him for a time,’ she said.

‘While he faces many challenges we are so proud of the determination he shows not to be defined by his condition.

‘He is an adorable little boy with an infectious smile who enjoys things all children do such as playing with friends and singing. We are just a normal family who go on days out and go to the park.

‘Our lives are dedicated to helping Josiah. He’s making amazing progress at a conductive education school.’  

Mr and Mrs Ellis have now produced a book about Josiah’s life so far, ‘My Name is Joe’, which they hope will be used in schools to teach children about people with disabilities. 

Lindsay Tomlinson, a specialist medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: ‘Josiah’s parents have shown incredible resilience throughout the years I have worked with them in coming to terms with what happened and providing the best life possible for Josiah, as well as his brother.

The payout will fund the specialist life-long, support, care and therapies which Josiah (left with his brother Samuel), who has learning and speech difficulties and is wheelchair reliant, requires

Mr and Mrs Ellis have now produced a book, ‘My Name is Joe’, which they hope will be used in schools to teach children about people with disabilities. Pictured: Josiah after his birth

‘Like in many cases where a person suffers a brain injury as a child, Josiah has had to wait several years for doctors to fully establish the true extent of his injuries and predict his likely future needs.

‘During the course of our investigations worrying issues in the care that Josiah received were identified. While nothing can make up for his injuries it’s vital that lessons are learned so others don’t have to experience the upset that Marc, Lotti and the rest of the family have endured.’

Diane Wake, chief executive of the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, added: ‘This is a tragic case concerning failings in care, at the time of the birth of Josiah Ellis, born January 2009 for which the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust has previously accepted full responsibility.

‘We are pleased that the court approved a financial package to enable Josiah to continue to receive the level of care he requires, in accommodation designed to meet his needs for the rest of his life.

‘The damage cannot be undone, but the hope is that Josiah and his family can at least now look to the future with some confidence. We also learned lessons as a result.

‘We would like to offer an unreserved apology to Josiah and his family for these admitted failings in care, and to pay tribute to them for their devoted care and wish them all the very best for the future.’

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