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Doctor Cathy Armstrong suing truck driver after injuries suffered in ambulance crash ended her medical career

By Alan Erwin

Published 09/06/2015

Dr Cathy Armstrong was seriously injured when the ambulance she was travelling in overturned after a crash near Brookeborough in 2011
Dr Cathy Armstrong was seriously injured when the ambulance she was travelling in overturned after a crash near Brookeborough in 2011
Dr Cathy Armstrong was seriously injured when the ambulance she was travelling in overturned after a crash near Brookeborough in 2011

A doctor seriously injured when an ambulance she was in crashed and overturned lived for her work, the High Court has heard.

Dr Cathy Armstrong was treating a critically-ill patient en route to hospital when their vehicle collided with a truck in Co Fermanagh.

The consultant anaesthetist is suing the truck driver, Noel Parsons, over the accident in January 2011.

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and the PSNI are also listed as defendants in the High Court action.

Opening the case in front of Mr Justice Weir, counsel for Dr Armstrong described how she suffered serious back injuries in the crash.

Liam McCollum QC said her lifelong medical career had been halted on the day of the collision.

"She was at the time of the accident a 51-year-old consultant anaesthetist," the barrister said.

"Her work was her life and it would have been her full intention to work on to the last possible time she could work before retirement.

"She will tell you she just lived for her work and absolutely loved her job."

Dr Armstrong was in the ambulance providing treatment to a swine flu patient being transferred from the Erne Hospital in Enniskillen to Belfast.

A police car had been travelling in advance, clearing the route for their emergency journey.

It overtook Mr Parsons' vehicle as he was about to make a right turn on the main A4 road at Brookeborough.

But the ambulance travelling behind collided with the truck, crashing off the road and overturning down an embankment.

Mr McCollum claimed Mr Parsons' manoeuvre was "foolhardy in its mildest form".

The barrister submitted: "He clearly should have been aware a vehicle was coming behind by proper use of his mirror, leaving aside the emergency sirens and lights."

Returning to the impact on his client, he referred to reports which predicted she would probably not make a return to work.

One described the accident as a "life-changing event" for the doctor.

The case continues.

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