Abuse in hospital

Award-winning abuse lawyer Elizabeth Duncan settles a compensation claim for a woman who was abused in hospital.

The case centered around incidents of abuse in hospital that were carried out by a psychiatric nurse.

Elizabeth’s client (who will we refer to as ‘H’ for privacy) had been very unwell as a teenager. She had been suicidal and had harmed herself. As a result she was admitted to a children’s psychiatric unit as an in-patient when she was just 15 years old.

While in hospital H was targeted by a male nurse. This individual groomed H, telling her she was beautiful and that he had feelings for her. He persuaded H to believe that he cared for her and they would “be together” when she was discharged from hospital. He provided her with a mobile phone and bombarded her with messages which became increasingly sexual in nature. The nurse also pressurised H to send him explicit photographs of herself.

This made H, who was already an extremely unwell and vulnerable child, feel incredibly confused. She did not want to have sexual messages from her nurse, but was confused about her feelings and did not want him to stop being kind to her.

Ultimately the messages were discovered by another member of staff. The nurse was struck off as a registered nurse and convicted of offences against H in relation to inciting sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder by a care worker.

This abuse in hospital had a catastrophic impact on H’s condition. She felt misplaced guilt for the nurse losing his job. She lost trust in the treatment and care providers, wondering if anyone showing care to her was just interested in her sexually. She struggled to stay in the hospital where these events had happened.

As an adult in her 20s H noticed that the nurse had been looking at her details on social media which she found incredibly unsettling. This brought back to her the events in hospital as a teenager and she wanted to do something to bring proper closure. She therefore contacted Elizabeth for a free case assessment.

Elizabeth agreed to help H on a No Win, No Fee basis and submitted a claim to the hospital Trust.

The Trust defended the claim on the basis that it had been brought out of time. The usual time limit for claims arising from events in childhood is that they must be brought by the claimant’s 21st birthday, and H was some years outside of that deadline.

However Elizabeth believed that given the circumstances of the case there were good prospects of ultimately persuading a court to allow the claim to be made, and pressed on.

A report was obtained from a Consultant Psychiatrist about the impact the abuse had on H. However the Trust did not budge from their position and Elizabeth therefore issued court proceedings.

Despite the Trust continuing to defend the claim, they made an offer to settle out of court before the trial began.

H accepted the offer. She was relieved to be able to draw a line under this distressing part of her life and was looking forward to the future.

For expert guidance on making an abuse in hospital compensation claim, contact us in confidence for a free case assessment and details of no win, no fee funding. Call freephone 0333 888 0445 or email us at [email protected]

Abuse in hospital