A care worker has been left with permanent hearing damage after a ceiling collapsed on his head at the hospital in which he was working.

David Kennedy, 48, from Reading was hit on the head by plasterboard which had fallen from the ceiling whilst he was observing patients as part of his job as a senior support worker in Prospect Park Hospital.

He was in the dining room in the Rowan Ward where patients with mental illness are cared for.

The ceiling had been highlighted to management as unsafe and in need of maintenance months earlier. The day before the accident a maintenance man said the ceiling was damp and created a small hole in it to let out water which had accumulated.

Despite the view of the maintenance staff and the action taken by them the dangerous area was not cordoned off.

Knocked unconscious in accident

Mr Kennedy was knocked unconscious when a piece of plasterboard fell from the ceiling. He also suffered a sprain to his right shoulder.

As a result of the blow to his head he developed tinnitus and suffers from hearing loss, meaning he must wear hearing aids in both ears.

Following the accident he contacted his trade union, UNISON, which instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation.

Thompsons argued the area should have been cordoned off or the room closed until maintenance work was carried out on the ceiling.

Berkshire Healthcare NHS Trust admitted liability and settled the claim out of court and Mr Kennedy was awarded damages.

No excuse for allowing a ceiling to become so dangerous

Mr Kennedy said: “My employers were aware for a number of months about the state of the ceiling. The day before my accident a workman had been in and whilst he let the water out he was to come back another time to repair it.

“If there was any danger the ceiling would fall down I would have expected the room to be closed or at least an area of the room cordoned off. I now have permanent hearing problems and its taken some time to get used to that and to wearing hearing aids.”

Phil Wood, SE regional secretary for UNISON said: “Employers have a duty of care to their staff and there is no excuse for allowing a ceiling to become so dangerous for both patients and staff. Very sadly Mr Kennedy has paid the price with permanent damage to his hearing. This cannot be allowed to happen again.”

Shivani Vadukal from Thompsons Solicitors added: “Mr Kennedy’s employers were aware of the poor condition of this ceiling. With members of staff and patients using this room on a daily basis the area should have been cordoned off at the very least or the room closed completely until the repairs were carried out. This is a classic example of basic bad health and safety practices.”