Case study involving the abuse of a vulnerable adult
We were contacted by a young woman, who for confidentiality purposes we will call Lily, in relation to her experiences while she was an in-patient in an NHS psychiatric unit.
Lily had been extremely unwell and was under a voluntary section for her own safety after being admitted to a unit in Oxfordshire. While there she attracted the attention of a member of the nursing team. This nurse groomed Lily, manipulating her into trusting him.
When Lily was discharged for a short spell the nurse, contrary to the NHS code of conduct, maintained contact with her. He sent her frequent messages and talked to her on the phone.
When Lily was re-admitted to hospital the following year after a further spell of particularly poor mental health, the nurse began sexually abusing her. This took the form of kissing, intimate touching, and making her perform oral sex on him. He also persuaded her to send him explicit photographs of herself.
Lily was again discharged but this only lasted for a few weeks. Over this time, the nurse continued bombarding her with messages. He came to the house where she was staying and persuaded Lily to have sex with him to “prove she loved him”. On her re-admission to hospital a few weeks later, the nurse continued the sexual abuse. The acts of abuse took place in Lily’s room in the unit as well as in a large storage cupboard in one of the common areas of the hospital. Despite there being a policy of no “closed door” consultations, no other staff member reported the frequent occasions when the nurse would be in Lily’s room alone with the door closed so he could abuse her.
When Lily was at last able to confide in another staff member about what the nurse had been doing to her he was immediately suspended and the NHS referred the matter to the police.
Frustratingly no criminal charges were brought against the nurse. He was however sacked from his job and his professional body stripped him of his registration.
Elizabeth Duncan, a member of our specialist abuse team, agreed to represent Lily in a compensation claim for the abuse she had suffered at the hands of someone who was supposed to be looking after her when she was at her most vulnerable. She offered to work on a No Win, No Fee basis so that Lily did not have to worry about paying legal costs.
Sadly, Lily’s mental health was so fragile that she took her own life before the case could be concluded. Lily left a young son behind so her mother took over the compensation claim for the benefit of her grandchild.
After a period of investigation the NHS admitted legal responsibility for the actions of the nurse. However they denied that the abuse would have made a material difference to Lily’s psychological health and they denied that it would have contributed to her suicide.
We therefore obtained expert medical evidence. This established that there was indeed a link between the abuse, Lily’s mental health and her ultimate suicide.
Armed with this evidence we were able to negotiate an out of court settlement of the claim that made financial provision for Lily’s young son.
For expert guidance on making a compensation claim for abuse of a vulnerable adult contact us in confidence for a free case assessment and details of no win, no fee funding.