A staff nurse at Broadmoor Hospital, West London Mental Health NHS Trust, has secured £21,500 compensation following two assaults by a patient. Leading trade union UNISON secured the compensation for Lucia Johnson, from Hampshire, via their free legal help scheme with personal injury specialists Thompsons Solicitors.

The assaults took place in December 2002 and July 2003. During the first assault, Lucia Johnson’s nose and left hand were injured when the patient threw objects at her. He was known to have a tendency to throw things at members of staff but objects had not been either removed from his room, locked away or fixed into position.

In July 2003, Mrs Johnson entered the patient’s room with three other colleagues as the patient was attempting to kill himself. She explains: “He punched me on the chin and on my right shoulder and as a result of my injuries, I had several months off work. He was often violent, but in spite of the complaints made by members of staff he was not removed to a more secure unit where more members of staff would have been available to supervise or medicate him. Many members of staff were unhappy about the special attention he was getting. He was trying to kill himself by ripping up material and putting them around his neck.”

Risk of Injury

Eddie Jaggers, Regional Officer, UNISON, comments: “Our member Lucia Johnson was clearly put at risk by Broadmoor Hospital and as a result was assaulted twice by a patient known to be violent. Although searches had been regularly carried out in his room, the appropriate action was not taken. We are therefore very pleased with the compensation secured.”

Anita Rattan of Thompsons Solicitors, who represented Mrs Johnson, said: “It is unacceptable that so many nurses who work alone should have to endure assault or harassment. Lucia Johnson’s case highlights the very real dangers they face.”

In March 2005, John Reid, the then Secretary of State for Health, said he would “do everything within my power to stop NHS staff suffering from violence and abuse” and would work to provide lone workers with the 'Identicom' system which enables the individual to discreetly call for emergency assistance and records verbal abuse for use in court. Two years later only three per cent of trusts have invested in such a system.