Social worker stabbed by psychiatric patient wins pay-out

A County Durham social worker who almost died when she was stabbed by a mental health patient has won a undisclosed pay-out.

Graham Burton warned medics he would kill Claire Selwood just days before he was freed to knife the mother-of-three in the back six times.

After he was jailed indefinitely in June 2007 for attempted murder, an independent investigation unearthed serious failings in the way NHS workers handled Burton’s care at Cherry Knowle Hospital, Sunderland.

It has taken more than seven years for Mrs Selwood to secure a pay-out from health workers after legal professionals argued two NHS Trusts had no duty of care for her safety.

But now – in a landmark legal case – she has secured an undisclosed sum after her injuries forced her to give-up her career in December last year.

Ms Selwood claimed health bosses – plus her employer, Durham County Council – had been negligent and exposed her to danger.

Her civil damages claim against Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust and Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust had previously been “struck out” by a county court judge.

Health bosses had successfully argued that they did not owe a duty of care in respect of the action of a third party.

But following a hearing in 2012 three judges ruled that Mrs Selwood could claim damages from two health authorities.

Mrs Selwood was medically retired in December after suffering physical and mental health problems. She needs a wheelchair, is constantly in pain and suffers flashbacks of the attack.

A spokesperson for Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are pleased for Ms Selwood that her claim has now been resolved.

“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 Trust’s offer their best wishes to Ms Selwood and her family for the future.”