Compensation claim for unqualified nurse carrying out cervical smears succeeds

Our client, Ms Heidi Smith, a 42 year old lady from Maidstone, Kent, was asked to attend her GP surgery at Brompton Road, Gillingham, for a routine cervical smear test in December 2008.

The smear test was performed by the Surgery’s practise nurse Denise Stewart.

Subsequently, in around August 2011,  Ms Smith received a letter from the Primary Care Trust notifying her that Denise Stewart, was in actual fact unqualified and had forged certificates purporting to hold herself out as a registered practice nurse.

As a consequence of this, Ms Smith developed anxiety and depression as she was very concerned that there was a risk that the cervical smear test had not been performed correctly and she may have developed cervical cancer.

She was also particularly anxious that she had been sexually violated by Denise Stewart given that she was not competent or qualified to perform that procedure.

Ms Smith, initially did not feel able to pursue a claim against the GP surgery who were responsible for Denise Stewart’s actions and the 3 year time limit for issuing proceedings elapsed.

She sought legal advice from Fairweathers Solicitors LLP in April 2015, some 8 months after the time limit had expired to issue Court proceedings.

We took a very robust view, however, and decided to pursue the claim. We considered that there were reasonable arguments to put forward to explain why Ms Smith had not felt able to seek legal advice earlier.

Upon receipt of supportive medical evidence from a Consultant Psychiatrist, confirming psychiatric injury arising from the actions of Denise Stewart, Fairweathers Solicitors LLP issued proceedings.

The legal team acting on behalf of the GP surgery denied liability and that Ms Smith had developed any anxiety or depression as a result of Denise Stewart not being qualified. They also relied on the fact that the claim was brought out of time.

However, settlement negotiations were entered into at an early and, after some legal arguments, the GP’s solicitors put forward an offer in settlement for an undisclosed sum which Ms Smith decided to accept.

Kate Virica, Senior Solicitor, at Fairweathers Solicitors LLP who had conduct of the claim commented as follows:

This is a very good result in a very difficult case. We took the case on knowing that there were problems in respect of the time limits but we were always confident that those hurdles would be overcome and we would be able to negotiate settlement.”

Ms Smith stated:

“I am very pleased with the outcome. Fairweathers have been really brilliant! Top marks to Kate Virica and her secretary.”