A care assistant who developed a dependence on morphine treatment following a serious workplace injury has received £18,000 in compensation.

The GMB member from North Yorkshire was off work for several months after she was hit on the ankle by a hoist, a piece of equipment used to move immobile patients.

The 66-year-old was left with a severe cut to her left ankle and heel which became infected and ulcerated. Her ankle was in such a bad condition she needed morphine to control the pain. Her subsequent dependency on the drug meant she suffered symptoms of withdrawal.

Morphine dependency can lead to feelings of anxiety and fear while withdrawal can feel like a severe case of the flu.

Ankle injury still causes discomfort and pain

Although she has made a full recovery from the dependency and her ankle has healed, it still gives her discomfort and pain.

The member has now returned to work for the care home run by Bupa Care Services.

Following the accident she contacted her union which instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation.

Thompsons pointed out that the sling was a large and cumbersome piece of equipment being used in a congested area. The legal firm argued that steps should have been taken to avoid an accident when it was being moved.

Employer settled claim out of court

Bupa Care Services admitted liability and settled the claim out of court.

The member said: “A cut ankle became far more than just that. I should have made a full recovery very quickly but the morphine prescribed for an ulcerated wound had severe side effects. I became dependent on the painkiller. I still find talking about my ordeal extremely difficult.”

Tim Roache from the GMB said: “What initially seemed like a minor injury turned into something much more serious and had a deep underlying impact on our member. Fortunately the accident was properly reported and documented at the time and as a result we were able to help this member claim compensation for the unexpected consequences.”

Jane Gulliford from Thompsons Solicitors added: “People suffering from morphine dependence feel an intense psychological and physical addiction. Withdrawal can make the person very sick and they can be left with feelings of anxiety and fear.

“This member's employers were responsible for the initial injury and the law says they have to take the consequences that flow from the treatment she subsequently received.”