A MENTAL health patient has secured more than £30,000 in compensation following an allegation of sexual assault at a mental health hospital.

The woman – who we are referring to as Jess – had been receiving treatment for depression and suicidal thoughts at The Lakes in Colchester in 2018 when she said a health care assistant came into her room and touched her inappropriately.

She said the health care assistant kissed and massaged her without consent while she was alone in her room.

Jess reported the incident to the hospital operated by Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust and the police.

She was distressed to learn the health care assistant continued to work in the hospital later that day, although he was moved to another ward.

He absconded before the conclusion of police investigation and police were unable to trace him, the Trust reported.

Jess instructed solicitors Leigh Day to bring a civil claim for the alleged assault and the Trust’s failures to keep her safe and to properly investigate the incident.

The abuse claims team at Leigh Day obtained expert evidence from a consultant psychiatrist who diagnosed Jess with an exacerbation of her previous mental health conditions following the assault, including post-traumatic stress disorder which affected her ability to return to work.

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The Trust agreed to pay Jess £33,000 in compensation and made a formal apology to her.

Speaking of her experience Jess said: “I’m so pleased the claim came to an end. It finally provides me with closure and I feel that I am ready to move on.

“It was also important to me that the Trust offered a letter of apology.”

Catriona Rubens, a solicitor at Leigh Day who represented Jess, said: “I am pleased that Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust recognised the seriousness of Jess’s claim by paying her compensation that she can now use to access treatment and begin to move on with her life.

“As a mental health inpatient, Jess was in a very vulnerable position and was wholly reliant upon the Trust to keep her safe on the ward.”

A spokesperson for the Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust said: “We offer our sincere apologies for the distress experienced and are pleased to have come to an agreed settlement which we hope will help towards the recovery process.”