A father has received £7,000 in compensation after he was assaulted by security staff as he attempted to take his daughter home from HOSPITAL.
David Fish, 47, was left with bruising and bloodshot eyes after four burly guards blocked his path.
Trouble flared after a disagreement between two consultants over whether it was suitable to discharge baby Ellie-Suzanne, who had been in hospital for five months.
David and his wife Beverley were initially told they could take her home for the first time by the consultant in charge of her care.
But another expert at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children insisted she should stay – and security staff were asked to prevent the family from leaving.
The couple ended up in a ugly scuffle which resulted in Beverley, 42, suffering a black eye.
Mr Smith said: “I was jumped by four security guards, it was vicious.
“They dragged me down the corridor and carried on beating me up. My wife was there and she tried to help so handed Ellie to a nurse.
“Then the security guards started on her too. You never imagine that anything like that would happen in a hospital.”
Ellie-Suzanne was born weighing just 589 grams – about 1lb 4oz – in September 2007 after Mrs Fish went into premature labour at just 23 weeks.
She was initially given a ten to 15 per cent chance of survival and spent her first five months in the neonatal intensive care unit at Southmead Hospital.
The youngster was then transferred to the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children and was awaiting an operation on her stomach when the incident took place.
After the bust-up between the consultants Mr and Mrs Fish gathered up Ellie-Suzanne’s medical equipment and left her room.
But as they walked along the corridor their path was blocked by four security guards.
Mr Fish said: “We were able to look after her at home because we had done it in the hospital for the last four months.
“We knew everything there was to know about it, we were the ones that knew her. We spent every day in hospital caring for her.
“The consultant said we could take her home for the night and my wife said we would. But within ten minutes another consultant came in and said we couldn’t.
“We gathered up her things and walked off the ward. We had so many problems on that ward and felt they did not know how to look after her properly.
“I was holding all of Ellie’s equipment, which was still connected to her and suddenly four security guards jumped on me. My wife was also assaulted.
“It was a nightmare.”
Police arrived during the confrontation and took photographs of the injuries suffered by the couple.
Mr and Mrs Fish, of Fishponds, Bristol, were themselves cautioned for a public order offence and admit they swore at the time of the alleged assault.
They were taken to a nearby police station and spent the night in separate cells, before being released at 5am.
After the incident, which happened in March 2008, they were prevented from visiting their daughter for two weeks.
Mr Fish added: “We were so worried about our daughter, we thought she was going to die. We were very nervous and very scared.”
The couple – also parents to Stacey, 29, David, 23, Abbie, 19, Martyn, 21 and Joshua, 16, – had to send in relatives and friends to visit Ellie-Suzanne.
They were then allowed to visit the ward, ward 38, after signing to agree that their visits were monitored.
Mr and Mrs Fish, who have five other children, took legal advice after the incident and sued the NHS for the injuries suffered. Mr Fish received his settlement two weeks ago.
A legal team acting on behalf of University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust admitted liability for the injuries he suffered in the incident, giving #7,000 in compensation.
His wife is now waiting for her settlement.
She said: “When I first saw my face afterwards I could not believe it.
“My bridge was knocked out of my mouth and my face was black for months afterwards.”
Mr and Mrs Fish are now planning to take further action against the hospital for the care their daughter received during her treatment.
Ellie, now five, who requires oxygen overnight and has other complex needs, can walk and talk and started at a mainstream school on Monday.
A spokesman for the NHS Litigation Authority, which handles legal matters on behalf of health trusts, said: “There was a claim made of assault by security staff. After an investigation we admitted that claim and compensation was paid.”
A spokeswoman for the city centre hospital trust said: “The NHS Litigation Authority has settled Mr Fish’s civil claim for personal injury against University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust as a result of an incident in March 2008.”
She would not respond to the family’s allegations about the way the security team had handled the situation or complaints over other aspects of her care at the hospital prior to the incident.
The trust also declined to say whether its security procedures had changed since the incident.
Tom Jones of Thompsons Solicitors, which handled the case for Mr and Mrs Fish, said: “Civil proceedings for personal injury (which in Mr Fish’s case have been successful and in Mrs Fish’s case have yet to be concluded) were started.
“The allegations of negligence included that the Trust failed to control or adequately train employees for whom they were responsible.”