Five mothers whose babies were born with brain damage complained yesterday that government bureaucracy had delayed their applications for legal aid to sue the hospital authorities. The mothers and another four families are planning to take action against hospital authorities for alleged negligence while performing surgery or delivering babies. They complained the Legal Aid Department had been too slow in examining their cases. One of them has waited 19 months without confirmation of whether the application had been successful. Some of the families are considering complaining to the Ombudsman about the red tape. Legislator Leung Yiu-chung, who is helping the families, said: 'The procedure to apply for legal aid is confusing and the applications are not seriously dealt with. Whenever the applicants call to check the progress, someone from the department says they know nothing about it as their files are with the lawyers.' The nine cases include five babies born with brain damage thought to be caused by partial asphyxiation during difficult deliveries at Princess Margaret Hospital from 1994 to last year. Three of the babies have since died. One eight-month-old boy is developing very slowly and a 10-month-old girl cannot eat properly, cry or smile. The girl's mother, Wong Chan Yuk-chu, 36, said: 'We want to take legal action because we want a proper explanation on the damage done to our babies.' Ms Wong had asked for a Caesarean section but was refused. She said the complainants were dissatisfied with the Hospital Authority's investigation into their cases. The authority has found no fault in the care given to the mothers and described the complaints as 'emotional'. The four families planning to take action against the authority include relatives of two patients who died after bone marrow transplant operations at Prince of Wales Hospital in May last year.