Mother of tetraplegic girl says HSE ‘ruthless’ during hearing

Alex Butler secures €10.4million settlement in case against HSE after 10-year battle

The mother of a tetraplegic 10-year-old girl, who secured a €10.4million settlement in her case against the Health Service Executive (HSE) for injuries sustained during her birth, said the agency was "ruthless" throughout the process.

Sonya Butler said she was glad the court case was over and her family could "move on" and build the life her daughter deserved.

The final €9million settlement of Alex Butler's case was approved at the High Court on Wednesday, following an 18-day hearing to assess the child's future care needs.

Two years ago, the child received a €1.4million interim payment and an apology from Waterford Regional Hospital where she was born.

Mrs Butler said on Brendan O’ Connor’s radio show on RTÉ1 on Thursday morning the attitude of the HSE throughout the hearing was “disgusting,” and that “they fought tooth and nail” over issues of care that her daughter would need.

“They basically want Alex to have an existence, not a life,” Mrs Butler said. “They want her to scrape by with the bare minimum, rather than having the life that she should have had”.

Mrs Butler said a previous court hearing was told had her daughter been born 10 or 12 minutes earlier, she would not be physically disabled.

Mrs Butler also said witnesses were cross-examined “in areas they weren’t professional in”.

“It was actually suggested by someone that if there wasn’t a second person to go with her when Alex was older, to go to the bathroom with her, that she could wear incontinence pants,” Mrs Butler said.

“For somebody who is completely continent, they felt this was acceptable”.

Mrs Butler said her daughter “absolutely loves life” and that “she wants to be out there in the thick of the fun, and she wants to have a life,” adding that her daughter is now able to take a few steps following intensive physiotherapy treatment in the US.

“She’s driven, we’re driven, and I think for kids like Alex, to be left sitting in a chair without the right intervention is no-no,” Ms Butler said.

“I suppose it was a day that we felt maybe, won is probably the wrong term, but I just felt that they didn’t have the upper hand. That we got what we were looking for, and that they had to agree to it basically”.

A spokesperson for the HSE declined to comment on the settlement.