I sued for others, not for the cash

THE ex-nurse who sued the NHS and last week was awarded £140,000 damages spoke to the Observer this week.

Thursday, 11th October 2001, 2:10 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 7:48 pm

She claimed in court overwork and stress at Bexhill Hospital had caused her to have a mental breakdown. But she insists she did not take legal action for the cash.

Jane Witham, her career in tatters and forced to accept ill-health retirement at 41, said her four-year legal battle with Hastings and Rother NHS Trust was for a principle and to prevent other nurses going through what I did.

Deputy High Court Judge Rex Tedd, QC, said Jane had returned to work in 1996 in the Irvine Unit after post-natal depression following the birth of her fourth daughter eight months earlier.

The Trust should have seen she was at risk of further mental illness and lightened her workload. Instead she had more responsibility and extra managerial work when the unit was enlarged. Speaking from her home in Glenleigh Avenue, Jane, a divorcee with four daughters aged six to 18, said her fight for justice had nothing to do with cash.

She said: The Trust took advantage of me. I brought the case to stop other nurses suffering as I did. My breakdown ended the career I loved. Now my life is my house and family, swimming, or helping with school trips, supported by wonderful neighbours and friends, including former colleagues.

I cannot concentrate enough to read books or watch videos. I get very tired. I m still on medication, although I no longer see my psychiatrist.

Jane said she had asked to be eased back gently into work when she returned after her post natal depression. It was not to be.

Nobody held a gun at my head to put in long hours, but if I didn t I couldn t get through all the administration work.

Jane said the 140,000 would pay off the mortgage and help give her daughters security.

We haven t had a holiday in four years, so maybe we ll take a little break.