Hospital apologises to Reading mother left disabled by failures 


A mother who was left disabled and a shadow of her former self by hospital failures has spoken of her heartache over the impact on her children. 

Michelle Turner is just 41 but relies on walking aids and crutches to move around. She also suffers with bladder and bowel incontinence and permanent severe pain due to nerve damage caused by negligent treatment of a serious spinal condition by Royal Berkshire Hospital.

The hospital has now apologised to the mother-of-four for the failures after her case was taken on by specialist spinal injury solicitors at law firm JMW. However after Michelle’s life was completely devastated she wants to ensure lessons are learned from her case.

Eddie Jones, head of JMW’s medical negligence team, helped Michelle to challenge the mistakes that were made after she contacted him for advice after reading about another woman with avoidable spinal damage he had helped.

Mr Jones commented: “The tragedy in Michelle’s case is that the hospital missed a clear opportunity to operate and prevent permanent damage from being caused. The mistakes that were made were basic and avoidable. The red flag signs of spinal injury were not recognised, tests and scans were not carried out and surgery that was urgently needed was delayed for several days. Michelle will have to live with the consequences of those errors for the rest of her life.”

Michelle, who lives in Reading, with her children aged 20 to six, was suffering from cauda equina syndrome, a serious spinal condition that requires urgent surgery. 

However when she attended A&E with severe back pain on 2 June 2011 investigations were not carried out and Michelle was sent home even though she required an emergency operation. Michelle was sent back to A&E on 6 June by her GP and although this time an MRI scan was carried out she did not undergo surgery until the following afternoon, by which time it was too late to prevent serious and permanent damage. 

Michelle commented: “I have no problem with the NHS and the care it has provided for my children has been excellent. I was very unlucky to have been treated the way I was but I think lessons need to be learned so it doesn’t happen again and cauda equina syndrome is recognised as the emergency that it is. 

“I put a brave face on for my kids and try to make the best of things but inside I am really struggling and it’s changed me as a person. I used to love doing physical activities with my kids but now I rarely leave the house and need a lot of help from family and friends. I also have to take a lot of medication to cope with the pain. 

“My two older children have been really affected by what happened and have to do a lot more around the house while the younger two will never know the ‘fun mum’ that I used to be. It also caused my 12-year relationship with my partner to break down. It's basically taken most of my life away.” 

Michelle will have a range of long-term care and equipment needs to enable her to cope with her disabilities and will eventually receive compensation from the hospital trust to enable her to cover the cost of these. The compensation will be carefully calculated after her needs are assessed by independent experts and will ensure Michelle and her family are able to manage the financial implications of her injury. 


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Kelly Hindle

0161 828 1868 

Samantha Meakin

0161 828 1981/07595 277 842

Note to Editors

JMW Solicitors LLP is a leading Manchester law firm and offers a broad range of legal services to both commercial and private clients.JMW’s Clinical Negligence team is headed up by leading clinical negligence lawyer, Eddie Jones.

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