A care worker who gave up her career after she damaged her back in a work place accident has received compensation from her former employers.

Julie Bowler, 35, from Coalville in Leicestershire has been left unable to lift and suffering from back pain and sciatica after she was injured whilst working for Southern Cross-owned Rowans Nursing Home in Coalville in 2010.

Despite eventually being able to return to work on light duties she felt her injury stopped her from doing her job as a carer properly. She now works as a classroom assistant.

No specialist equipment provided

Mrs Bowler worked as a carer for 12 years and on the night of the accident she and a colleague were turning the patient onto her side. They hadn’t been provided with specialist ‘turn sheets’ to lift the heavy patient who suffered from dementia. The patient was also on a normal divan bed, not a profile bed which would allow carers to raise it to allow for lifting.

As the patient was laid on her side she fell towards Mrs Bowler who caught her with both hands to prevent her from falling off the bed onto the floor.

The weight of the patient caused her to suffer a bulging disc.

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

Her injuries meant she had to take four months off work and together with back pain and sciatica she has numbness in her foot. Medical experts said the accident had brought forward degenerative changes in her back by six years.

Mrs Bowler and colleagues had asked bosses to provide ‘turn sheets’ for the patient but they had never been arranged.

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

Specialist equipment should have been provided

Thompsons argued that specialist equipment should have been provided to make moving the patient safer.

Southern Cross Health Care Group Plc, owner of Rowans Nursing Home, admitted liability and settled the claim out of court.

Mrs Bowler said: “I had always wanted to become a carer and was qualified to the highest level, I enjoyed the job. When I attempted to return to work my injury meant I was unable to do a lot of the job and that wasn’t fair to me or the clients.

“It was a difficult decision to leave but I wasn’t happy doing half a job and decided to retrain as a teaching assistant. I hope one day that my back will become strong enough to allow me to return to caring.”

Injured through no fault of her own

Andy Worth, regional secretary at the GMB added: “The caring profession has lost a dedicated and highly trained member of staff all because her employers failed to listen to their employee’s concerns.

“Our member was injured through no fault of her own.”

Angela Staples from Thompsons Solicitors in Nottingham added: “We are pleased we have been able to bring this claim to a swift settlement for Mrs Bowler. It was important to her that Southern Cross accepted responsibility for her accident and took steps to ensure that the appropriate equipment was provided for patients in the future. Compensation has followed the negligence and we hope that payment of that has been a lesson learnt for this care home.”