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Legal Victory For Woman Given Cold Shoulder By Medical Staff

Trust Admits Liability For Errors


A leading North East lawyer has won a legal victory for a Sunderland woman whose badly-fractured shoulder was ignored by medical staff, who sent her home telling her to ‘exercise it’.

The South of Tyne and Wear NHS Trust has admitted liability for errors made in the treatment of June Thompson, who suspected she had broken her shoulder after she tripped and fell over a step at her friend’s house in October 2009.

She attended the Grindon Lane Primary Care Centre where she was examined by a nurse – despite Mrs Thompson’s insistence that the joint was broken, she was sent home wearing a sling, with instructions to take painkillers and do some gentle exercises to prevent the shoulder freezing.

Three days later, after finding exercise made the pain worse, she went to the Bunny Hill Primary Care walk-in centre, where an x-ray revealed significant damage to the shoulder – the fracture was badly complicated and there were several loose fragments of bone.

She was told the joint was so badly displaced that it would require surgery to repair it – the operation was a success but Mrs Thompson has been left with ongoing pain and limited mobility. This has reduced her ability to look after her ill husband, for whom she is the main carer.

She instructed Stephen Winn, medical negligence solicitor at the Newcastle office of national law firm Irwin Mitchell, to investigate a claim for clinical negligence against the South of Tyne and Wear NHS Trust. The case was recently settled for an undisclosed amount and the trust admitted liability.

Stephen Winn said: “Mrs Thompson has suffered an extraordinary amount of pain over a number of days because medical staff failed to examine her injury correctly. To make matters worse, she was sent home and told to exercise, which almost certainly made her condition worse.

“Although her injury wasn’t life-threatening, Mrs Thompson’s life has been badly impacted by the poor medical advice and treatment she was given. She cannot now care properly for her sick husband and has vastly reduced movement in her arm.

“She attended the walk-in centre in the first place on the advice of the NHS Direct helpline, but it is clear that she should have been directed straight to an accident and emergency ward.”

Mrs Thompson said: “The pain was excruciating and I was insistent that I thought it was broken, but they said it was just soft tissue damage and that I should keep it moving. I was positive at the time that I should have had an x-ray so I’m pleased that the trust’s admission of liability shows that I was correct.

“You trust what medical staff tell you to do, even though it was hurting so much to move my shoulder. I can’t believe it made the fracture worse and I’ve been left with a lack of movement that I may never recover.”