Irwin Mitchell’s abuse solicitors won compensation for a woman who was assaulted by a nurse while in hospital for an eating disorder.
Our client, Frances, was born in 1976. She was admitted as an in-patient to hospital in approximately 2005 as a result of a long-standing eating disorder. Frances confided in her primary nurse and trusted her with very personal details. The nurse started to call Frances, asking to visit her at home. She allowed Frances not to eat, in contravention of her required food intake. The nurse also visited our client when she was a patient in another hospital and waited for her outside out-patient appointments. On one occasion at her home, the nurse indecently assaulted Frances, who made excuses not to see her anymore.
During another in-patient stay in hospital, the same nurse started working there again on bank shifts. Frances became very distressed and told her ward manager what had happened. The matter was reported to the police but they did not proceed because Frances was a vulnerable witness. The Nursing and Midwifery Council found that the nurse had deliberately instigated a personal relationship with Frances.
We made a claim against the responsible NHS Trust, who were liable for the nurse’s actions. We took into account the acts of abuse and their psychological effect on Frances, including a deterioration of her pre-existing eating disorder and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder – this lengthened her admission as an in-patient.
We started Court proceedings and successfully applied for her name to be anonymised to protect her identity.
The NHS Trust admitted that they were liable for the nurse’s actions and made an early offer to settle the claim for £75,000, which we accepted. The Chief Executive of the Trust also provided a written apology. We referred Frances to our colleagues for advice about investing her settlement money in a personal injury trust to protect her benefits.
Tracey Storey is the head of our team of child abuse solicitors. She said of the case: “The professional abuse Frances suffered whilst already ill prolonged her recovery from her eating disorder and resulted in lengthy hospitalisation. She was a vulnerable patient and I hope that the apology and financial redress has helped Frances to put this serious breach of trust behind her.”
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