A nurse whose career was ended after a brutal attack by a crazed patient has been told she will have to live in chronic pain for the rest of her life.
Mum of one Louise Jago, 33, was thrown against a door several times and dangled in the air until she broke free of the savage assault.
Louise, who says she has been left unable to even pick her now five-year-old daughter up as she is in constant agony, is taking legal action against the Brighton and Sussex University Trust who she worked for. The trust has admitted liability in the case.
She blames staff shortages because of government cut backs for the incident that has left her unable to do the job she loved.
The case follows research carried out by Slater and Gordon that found over a third of public sector workers had either been physically attacked or threatened while doing their jobs.
Louise was working on the Neurological Ward of the Princess Royal Hospital, in Haywards Heath, when the patient, who had threatened and assaulted several members of ward and security staff before, asked to be helped to the toilet.
Louise, from Uckfield in East Sussex, said: “The hospital authorities knew he was dangerous. He had held another nurse up against the wall and threatened to strangle her. There was one night he chased me down the ward threatening to kill me and I had to hide in a staff bathroom. We all submitted incident reports, there were two or three daily. This was going on for weeks, if not months.
“I took him to the toilet and we were chatting, everything was fine. I was leading him back and he suddenly grabbed my arms and slammed me several times against the door. I was crying out as he lifted me by my arms so my feet were off the floor. I called out for help but the only other nurse on duty was on the other side of the ward and she couldn’t hear my screams. As I was shouting out he was looking at me and repeating back my cries in parrot fashion.
“A couple of minutes later I managed to wriggle free and the patient turned his back and he urinated on the floor. I managed to get the door open and shouted out for my colleague who walked him back to his bed.”
Louise said the seriousness of the incident and the pain only kicked in minutes after the incident.
“I sat down and the feeling of terror and the extreme pain kicked in. I started to think of what could have happened as he was alone with me for all of that time and nobody could hear my screams. I was terrified and the worst images and thoughts I could have possibly had ran through my head.
“I knew I was alone and isolated and when I was shouting no one came to help which petrified me even more. He could have done anything to me and no one knew where we were. It couldn't have taken more than a minute or two but it's almost as if time slowed down.”
Louise has been left with chronic pain in her neck, shoulder, wrist and thumb that doctors say cannot be treated, only managed with pain killing medication and steroid injections. She said the attack changed her life forever. She was also dismissed from her job as she was no longer physically capable of working as a nurse.
She said: “The attack has had a devastating impact on my life. My career that I loved was taken away from me in that incident. I always wanted to be a nurse and thought I would be one for a long time, progressing into specialised nursing. I was in the infancy of my career and never thought I would have had to give it up within a few years of qualifying. I feel like my dream has been snatched away from me.
“It hasn’t just affected me but it has affected my whole family. I have suffered depression and have had nightmares and flash backs. It has made me snappy. My mother in law had to move in with us as I wasn’t able to even pick up our then one-year-old daughter. I am in constant pain which I’m told will never go but I have to learn how to live with it.
“I’m a 33-year-old woman with the body of a 60-year-old. We took my daughter to Chessington the other week but I couldn’t go on a single ride as I knew I would be in agony the next day if I did. It’s really painful for me as I can’t do the normal things that a mum does. My daughter shouldn’t have to put up with me not being a fun parent. She sees other mums doing fun stuff with their daughters and asks me to do the same. I feel that has been taken away from my daughter and I.”
She added that there was just one other nurse on duty at the time of the attack in September 2012 due to cut backs.
She said: “We are so lucky to have the NHS in this country but staff and patients are being put at risk because of the cutbacks. This is happening all the time. I understand they have to save money but they are putting staff and the public’s safety at risk. Front line staffing levels have dropped so low yet nurses are just expected to put up with it.”
Tracey Benson, an employer's liability specialist at Slater and Gordon, who represents Ms Jago said: "It is completely unacceptable for workers to be threatened or subjected to physical or verbal abuse while simply doing their jobs. But it is particularly appalling that the majority of attacks we see are committed by the public on people like Louise who go to work to help us.
“Louise's injuries had a life changing impact on her and have meant she is unable to do the job she loved. We are seeing more and more cases like this and it is extremely alarming."