We helped a young woman who was sexually assaulted by another patient while she was in hospital.
Our client, Audrey, had suffered with learning disabilities from birth and also developed a psychotic illness. She was admitted as an in-patient to Edgware Community Hospital when she was 23. The admission summary completed by the hospital identified that she was vulnerable to the risk of sexual assault and that she shouldn’t go out of the ward alone. However, staff left her unsupervised and Audrey was sexually assaulted by another patient.
We helped Audrey make a claim against Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust, who admitted breach of duty in failing to supervise Audrey. They also admitted that sexual intercourse occurred between the other patient and Audrey, and that she didn’t have the capacity to consent.
Our solicitors claimed compensation for the assault itself and Audrey’s subsequent psychiatric injury. She was assessed by a consultant psychiatrist who concluded that the assault led to considerable distress and contributed to our client’s difficulties in trusting people.
We also made a claim for Audrey’s parents as a result of the additional care they had to provide for their daughter. Before the assault, the parents relied on residential accommodation provided by the Local Authority, but understandably had no trust that their daughter would be properly supervised and so ended up caring for her at home.
The final sum, agreed between the parties and then approved by the court, was £77,000. We liaised with our Court of Protection team to manage the investment of the fund and to provide financial assistance to Audrey.
Tracey Storey is the head of our child abuse team. She said: “This was an unusual case. Audrey’s records made it clear that she was vulnerable to sexual assault and the other patient’s notes show he was a risk to other patients. Despite this, no effective safeguards were put in place. Audrey’s attack could have been avoided.
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