A carer who was forced to take early retirement after she severely damaged her back when her employers refused to invest in new equipment has received a substantial sum in compensation.

The 62-year-old from Hastings has been left in constant agony after she strained her back whilst attempting to lift a 17-stone patient in her role as a carer for East Sussex County Council.

The GMB member was caring for the man in his home when the accident happened.
She was using a hoist to lift him from onto his bed in April 2007 when she felt sudden and severe pain in her back.

Concerns about hoist were ignored

Earlier that month she had suffered a similar injury and she had had reason to complain about the hoist before that. She had asked that a gantry hoist be installed but her concerns were ignored.

Her back is so badly damaged she has been unable to return to work and has been medically retired.

She had worked as a home carer for 19 years and had been a council employee for 26 years.

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

Following the accident she contacted her trade union, the GMB, for advice. The GMB instructed Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation.

Thompsons argued that the council should have made sure the correct manual handling equipment was provided.

East Sussex County Council agreed liability and settled the claim out of court for £31,500 with a reduction for contributory negligence.

Equipment wasn't suitable for the job

The carer said: "I had worked for the council for a long time and enjoyed my work as a carer. Now that's gone, I have had to give up work and my back pain effects every aspect of my life. If I even want to cook a meal I have to wait for my husband to get home as I can't even bend down to get something out of the oven.

"Had the council listened to my requests for a gantry hoist this never would have happened.”

Richard Ascough, regional secretary at the GMB said: "This council has lost an experienced and loyal member of staff because they refused to trust her judgment from years of experience that the equipment they had provided wasn't suitable for the job."

William Seymour from Thompsons Solicitors added: "Our client didn't want her working life cut short or her health ruined but through a failure to listen and a refusal to provide a gantry hoist that is what happened here."