News Column

Woman wins pounds 500,000 for stress linked to ambulance delay

February 21, 2014

Press Association



A woman has won pounds 522,379 damages from an ambulance trust after she was left trapped on a bus in agony waiting for delayed paramedics to arrive.

Ceri Leigh had to leave her job as an exhibitions manager at the Natural History Museum when she developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The 50-year-old claimed her psychiatric damage was caused by the delay in an ambulance arriving after she dislocated her right kneecap and was unable to move from between the seats of the bus she had boarded at Wimbledon station, south-west London, on her way home from work in November 2008.

Leigh said she could not sit or stand and was screaming in agony for 50 minutes while well-meaning passengers tried to help and held her down to stop her moving, which added to her feeling of helplessness.

Every additional minute added to the trauma of her experience until she felt "utter despair", said Mr Justice Globe at London's high court today.

Leigh said she felt trapped, was shaking violently, became unable to hold her mind together, remembered "no longer knowing who she was" and went "into a freeze".

She did not recover full function in the knee for about 18 months and became housebound, suffering flashbacks, nightmares, a high level of anxiety and depression. She also began to suffer seizures.

In February 2011, she was medically retired from the job she loved and financial pressures drove her and her husband to move to south Wales.

London ambulance service NHS trust admitted there was a negligent delay of 17 minutes in the ambulance arriving but disputed the link with Leigh's psychiatric problems and the amount of damages.

Their lawyers said that, during 2010 and 2011, Leigh had other stresses including problems with marital communications, worry about whether her husband would be made redundant, financial problems, her son's transgender issues, her daughter's issues about her adoption and the pressures of litigation.

The judge, who witnessed one of Leigh's seizures when she gave evidence by videolink, said the delay made a "material contribution" to the development of her PTSD. He said he was satisfied that the seizures were part of the PTSD and consequent upon it and were not related to other stresses in her life.

The judge said he had no hesitation in accepting that Leigh's injury was severe as all aspects of her life were badly affected and additional therapy was expected to make only a minimal improvement.

Captions:

Ceri Leigh has since developed seizures


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Source: Guardian (UK)


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