Today’s ruling now means a healthcare professional can be found liable for negligent pre-conception advice which results in the birth of a child with a serious health condition
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A daughter who sued her mum’s GP for millions for allowing her to be born has won her landmark legal case.
Evie Toombes, 20, was born with spina bifida and has won her case against a doctor who advised her mum she would not need to take a supplement that could have prevented the condition.
The para-showjumping star was born with spina bifida – a condition where a baby’s spine and spinal cord fail to develop in the womb, causing a gap in the spine – and spends some of her days connected to tubes 24-hours-a-day.
Despite her condition, Evie, from Skegness, Lincolnshire, has formed a career in showjumping, competing against both disabled and able-bodied riders.
She won the Inspiration Young Person Award at a Well-child charity event in 2018, and has appeared on ITV’s show ‘Hidden Disabilities: What’s The Truth?’ and met Prince Harry and Meghan.
Evie claimed Dr Philip Mitchell was liable for a “wrong conception charge” after failing to advise her mother, Caroline Toombes, to take vital supplements before getting pregnant.
Doctors routinely advise prospective mums on the benefits of taking folic acid before conceiving and up until the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
The supplement is known to reduce the risk of spina bifida.
Susan Rodway QC told the court that had Evie’s mother been advised by her GP she would not have proceeded with her pregnancy as hastily as she did.
If she had been put off getting pregnant, she would have had a “normal, healthy” baby – but one who was a “genetically different person” to Evie, the QC added.
This was accepted by the court today.
But Dr Mitchell denies the claims, stating he provided Mrs Toombes with “reasonable advice”.
The High Court heard how 50-year-old Mrs Toombes went to visit Dr Mitchell at the Hawthorn Medical Practice in Skegness to explain her plans on having her first baby in February 2001.
But despite discussing folic acid during the consultation, Mrs Toombes insisted she was not told by Dr Mitchell of its significance in spina bifida prevention.
Michael De Navarro QC, insisted it was Dr Mitchell’s defence that he gave “reasonable advice” about the desirability of folic acid supplements being taken.
Today’s landmark decision could pave the way for Evie to now claim damages related to her disability which will ensure she is supported properly for the rest of her life.
The ruling could now open the doors to other healthcare professionals being found liable for negligent pre-conception advice which results in the birth of a child with a serious health condition.