Page last updated at 17:06 GMT, Friday, 27 November 2009

Paramedic's 200,000 injury cash

Michael Kirkham
Mr Kirkham walks with the aid of a stick and relies on his wife for help

A paramedic who was permanently disabled when he fell after his equipment bag snagged on a door handle has been awarded £200,000 compensation.

Michael Kirkham, 58, from Brixham, Devon, was on an emergency call in March 2003 when the accident happened.

He had previously complained to bosses about the risks of carrying too much in the bags, which had replaced rucksacks.

West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust admitted liability and settled the claim out of court.

Mr Kirkham, originally from Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, has suffered constant pain in his back and neck since the injury and has taken early retirement.

He has had to retire from a career he loved and is now permanently disabled
Dave Prentis
Unison

He walks with the aid of a stick and relies on his wife for help with everyday tasks.

"I am pleased that my case has caused the ambulance service to change the bags and avoid further injury," Mr Kirkham said.

"It has been soul destroying to see my health deteriorate."

Rucksacks have been brought back by the ambulance trust to replace the bags.

Unison said while it welcomed the compensation award, money would not make up for Mr Kirkham's stress and suffering.

"He has had to retire from a career he loved and is now permanently disabled - his life has changed forever," Unison's Dave Prentis said.

The ambulance trust has apologised for Mr Kirkham's injuries and said the response bag has been replaced with a smaller, lighter, rucksack.

It said the accident occurred when Mr Kirkham was employed by Staffordshire Ambulance Service, prior to its merger with the West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

In a statement, the trust said: "We are keen to learn from experience and ensure that our staff remain as safe as is practicably possible."

It added it was currently assessing and developing the most suitable bag available.



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