UNISON, the UK's largest public service union, is today calling for better training for healthcare assistants, after a member suffered such a serious back injury she was forced to give up the job she loved.

The woman, from Felixstowe, Suffolk, worked as a health care assistant for Suffolk Coastal PCT at Bartlett Hospital. On the day of her accident, she was attending to a patient with another carer. They lifted the patient with the use of a handling belt and attempted to adjust the patient's clothes. While doing so, the patient fell onto the woman, seriously injuring her back.

She explains: "My injury could easily have been avoided if I'd had proper training. Looking back, we shouldn't have attempted the task without a third person present to adjust the patient's clothing. I'm so grateful to UNISON and to Thompsons for their amazing support."

Compensation for Accident at Work

Compensation was secured in an out of court settlement, with the support of UNISON and their personal injury lawyers Thompsons.

Greg Grant UNISON Regional Secretary said:

"Although very rewarding, care working is a difficult job at the best of times but it is made even harder when the health trusts fail to train staff properly. Sadly our member had to give up a job she loved and will need every penny of her compensation.

"Better training is the key to reducing back injuries which are far too common in the NHS. The latest staff survey reported that 12% of NHS staff had been injured in the past year because of moving and handling patients. Trusts cannot afford to lose good staff and they must ensure they get the training needed to do the job safely."

Representing the woman, Karen Mitchell from Thompsons Solicitors in Chelmsford, said:

"This case is yet another example of the lack of training given by health trusts to health care assistants in how to use a handling belt. If they were trained properly in accordance with patient handling techniques and manuals, accidents like this would be minimised."