Blog - Accidents at Work

Compensation Claim for Assault at work

Juliet Satterthwaite a nurse at St Nicholas in Gosforth was assaulted by a psychiatric patient causing hair loss and facial scaring.

She had been on duty for the night shift in March 2006, the patient should have been watched by two trained members of staff, but due to shortages only one member of staff had been trained. The patient became violent, grabbing Juliet in a headlock and pulled out her earring and hair, leaving deep cuts. The Nurses had been provided with alarms but they failed to work.

Karen Jennings, UNISON Head of Health, commented: “Sadly, Juliet’s case is all too common in the NHS, with staff suffering violence and abuse on a daily basis. Trusts should not wait for the final Boorman report before taking action to ensure workers have access to quality occupational health care across the NHS.

“In addition, Trusts must look carefully at the underlying causes of sickness absence, as many accidents and violent incidents are preventable – as Juliet’s case so clearly shows. It is a disgrace that she was subjected to a prolonged assault because of the lack of staff and faulty personal alarms.”

Nicola Waugh, from Thompsons Solicitors, commented: “Working with mental health patients can be a challenging role, but with the right training and procedures accidents like this can be avoided.

“In this case the situation could have been controlled quickly if the appropriate number of trained staff had been present.

“The extensive injuries received by Mrs Satterthwaite would have been prevented had the personal alarms been working and assistance arrived much quicker.”

Liability was admitted by Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland Mental Health NHS Trust and the claim was settled out of court for £6,500.

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