UNISON has helped a nurse claim damages after seriously injuring his wrist during an attempt to open an old ward window.

Mr Amankwa, from Sutton, in Surrey, was opening the window for a patient in the ladies toilets at St Helier Hospital, in Carshalton in 2002, when the accident happened.

The 43-year-old, who was awarded £11,000 in compensation with help from the UK’s largest public sector union, was off work for four months. He has been told he may need further surgery to repair the injury.

The old fashioned Victorian window had been hinged at the bottom and, as Mr Amankwa applied pressure to open it, his hand went through the glass, tearing his tendons.

The charge nurse required surgery to stitch a 75 per cent tear back together.

Nerves damaged and surgery required

His nerves were also affected and he now faces further physiotherapy and the likelihood of more surgery.

UNISON drafted in Thomsons Solicitors, who helped the nurse, and Epsom & St Helier NHS Trust come to an agreement to split the liability 50/50.

The ward has since undergone a refurbishment, including new windows.

Mr Amankwa said: “I never thought opening a window could cause such an injury. The window was old and the window frame was rotten, but I only found out when it was too late.

“The accident has affected my fingers and I still get pain and swelling in my arm.

“I decided to take action, as a matter of principle, as I felt strongly that those windows should have been replaced many years ago.

“Since the accident there has been a refurbishment programme to update the building.

“But I am concerned that hospital staff across the country regularly have to work in extremely old buildings, which desperately need updating.”

Good health and safety practices are vital

Steve Brazier, UNISON’s Head of Health in the South East, added: “The damages go some way towards Mr Amankwa’s loss, but he has still suffered at the hands of the hospital.

“Over the years there has been record investment into modernising NHS buildings.

“However, there are still hundreds of UNISON members working in buildings that need to be refurbished.

“Good health and safety practices are vital to keep all staff and patients safe from accidents like this one.”

Anita Rattan, from Thompsons Solicitors, added: “In this particular case the windows in the hospital were very old and the glass very fragile.

“The windows should have been upgraded or reinforced or, as a minimum, warnings should have been put in place.

“Unfortunately these steps weren’t taken until after the accident.”