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Senior doctor injured in when ambulance crashed gets £1m damages payout

By Alan Erwin

Published 18/06/2015

Dr Cathy Armstrong was injured in the ambulance crash
Dr Cathy Armstrong was injured in the ambulance crash
Dr Cathy Armstrong was injured in the ambulance crash

A doctor seriously injured when an ambulance she was in crashed and overturned is to receive more than £1 million in damages.

The payout was agreed as part of a settlement reached in Dr Cathy Armstrong's lawsuit over the accident in Co Fermanagh.

The consultant anaesthetist had been treating a critically-ill patient en route to hospital when their ambulance collided with a truck in January 2011.

She sued the driver of the other vehicle, Noel Parsons, with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service later joined as a second defendant.

During a hearing at the High Court in Belfast earlier this month a judge was told Dr Armstrong, now aged in her 50s, lived for her work and planned to continue as long as possible.

Her barrister contended that a lifelong medical career had been brought to a halt by the collision in which she sustained serious back injuries.

On the day of the crash she was in the ambulance treating a swine flu patient being transferred from the Erne Hospital in Enniskillen to Belfast.

A police car had been 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.

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

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

According to Dr Armstrong's barrister, the defendant should have realised an ambulance was approaching if he had properly used his mirrors.

The court heard the accident had been a "life-changing event" for the medic.

Reports referred to in the case predicted she may not make a return to work.

Proceedings were then adjourned to allow out-of-court negotiations.

Counsel for Dr Armstrong, Liam McCollum QC, later announced that a settlement had been reached.

Although the exact terms are not being disclosed, legal sources have confirmed she is to receive a figure in excess of £1m.

The consultant anaesthetist is also to get her legal costs in bringing the action.

Belfast Telegraph

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