Social worker stabbed by psychiatric patient wins pay-out from NHS trusts

Claire Selwood pursued a claim against the two trusts after it emerged medical staff failed to warn her about the threat of an attack

A social worker stabbed by a psychiatric patient for whose child she was responsible has won has won a undisclosed pay-out from the two health authorities in charge of her attacker’s care.

Claire Selwood was stabbed six times by Graham Burton, of Murton, after he confronted her during a meeting at his child’s school in County Durham.

Burton was receiving in-patient mental health care from Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust and community-based mental health care from Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust prior to the attack. He was on leave from hospital when the meeting took place.

Just two days before the attack, Burton told medical staff at Cherry Knowle Hospital in Sunderland that he would kill Selwood “on the spot” if he saw her; the latest in a string of threats.

An independent inquiry later found there had been a “complete failure” on the part of medical staff to warn Selwood of any danger.

Following the attack, Selwood began a claim for compensation against her then employer, Durham council, and the two mental health trusts.

The case against the trusts was dismissed by Newcastle County Court on the grounds they did not owe Selwood a duty of care, but, in 2012, the Court of Appeal accepted it was arguable that they did owe her a duty of care based on their responsibilities under an agreed protocol.

She has now received an out-of-court settlement after arguing that the trusts had been negligent and exposed her to danger, according to the BBC.

A spokesperson for the two NHS trusts said: “We are pleased for Ms Selwood that her claim has now been resolved and we offer her our sincerest best wishes.

“Mental health services have changed considerably since this appalling attack. Both organisations have made improvements to the way they work and acted promptly to implement the recommendations of an independent investigation into the incident in 2010.

“Both trusts offer their best wishes to Ms Selwood and her family for the future.”

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