The court, held virtually in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, heard that Miss Thompson worked for E-Zec Medical Transport Services as an ambulance care assistant driver.

Paramedic who miscarried after having to lift obese patient wins discrimination claim

A paramedic who suffered a second miscarriage after being forced to lift an obese patient 20 stone during her pregnancy has won a discrimination claim.

Claire Thompson was forced to push heavy wheelchairs and move overweight patients herself as an employee of E-Zec Medical Transport Services, causing ‘tremendous physical fatigue’.

She won her pregnancy discrimination claim despite completing a risk assessment which was described by the court as a ‘superficial tick box exercise’.

Miss Thompson in court was said to have been repeatedly put in situations where she would have to move a patient 20 stone on her own.

The ex-policeman suffered another miscarriage a month after the latest incident.

She is now in line to receive compensation.

The court, held virtually in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, heard that Miss Thompson worked for E-Zec Medical Transport Services as an ambulance care assistant driver.

The court, held virtually in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, heard that Miss Thompson worked for E-Zec Medical Transport Services as an ambulance attendant driver from July 2019.

She was based in Ipswich, Suffolk, for the company, which transports patients to and from NHS Trust hospitals.

Miss Thompson had an early miscarriage in August 2019 at around five or six weeks and told the court it made her ‘particularly anxious’ when she fell pregnant again in October 2019.

She said she was worried given the nature of her duties which involved lifting lots of heavy weights, bulky patients and pushing wheelchairs.

The court heard she was ‘surprised’ to be assigned to work on stretchers after telling her bosses about her pregnancy and her fears over the past miscarriage.

At the end of her shift, she was given a rotation for work the following week and she was placed in the bariatric ambulance for bariatric patients.

She was particularly concerned about transporting obese patients using stretchers and “considerably larger and heavier” wheelchairs in the bariatric ambulance.

The court heard her crew partner Eric Rolfe asking bosses to cut some of Miss Thompson’s jobs because they were unsafe for a pregnant woman.

Miss Thompson raised concerns in an email to her supervisor about the nature of the shifts she had been assigned since she revealed her pregnancy. She also requested a risk assessment which was conducted by her then manager, David Pepper.

The court heard she made frequent long trips to hospitals in Addenbrooke, Bury St Edmunds, Norfolk and Norwich, as well as long local trips.

The court heard she made frequent long trips to hospitals in Addenbrooke, Bury St Edmunds, Norfolk and Norwich, as well as long local trips.

Labor Judge Kevin Palmer castigated the inadequacy of this assessment: “There was generally a lack of detail and, in the view of the Tribunal, a lack of proper consideration of the actual risks.”

The risk assessment said she would have to work from a car to be more comfortable, but she was still assigned shifts after that in ambulances and asked to do work physical.

The court heard she made frequent long trips to hospitals in Addenbrooke, Bury St Edmunds, Norfolk and Norwich, as well as long local trips. She said it was difficult for her to manage the frequent bathroom breaks she needed or to eat as often as she needed.

Miss Thompson listed ten shifts between November and December 2019 which she said discriminated against her and breached the risk assessment.

She noted the ‘tremendous physical effort’ required to do the physical aspects of her job and added: ‘Moving wheelchairs during pregnancy was a constant concern and involved engaging [my] core a lot. Hospital wheelchairs are heavy and do not turn well.

The court heard that she was placed on shifts which should have required two people, such as when a patient was at risk of fainting, because “the patient could have passed out and fall on top of her and the [she] would have been left alone to provide for the needs of the patient”.

On three occasions he was asked to carry a bariatric patient – who weighed 19 stone and 2.96 pounds – alone, noting ‘the physical strain she was putting on and the level of pressure on her back and legs’ while by pushing the patient in their bariatric wheelchair.

The court heard she was 'surprised' to be assigned to work on stretchers after telling her bosses about her pregnancy and her fears over the past miscarriage.

The court heard she was ‘surprised’ to be assigned to work on stretchers after telling her bosses about her pregnancy and her fears over the past miscarriage.

The court heard that she had “great difficulty maneuvering the wheelchair on her own with such a heavy patient”. It put a lot of pressure on him.”

Sadly, Miss Thompson miscarried again in January 2020, around a month after the last of the ten incidents.

Originally, it was part of her case that the treatment she received from E-Zec caused this miscarriage. However, she did not pursue this claim at the final hearing.

Judge Palmer concluded: “The risk assessment did not meet the threshold of appropriate and sufficient in the circumstances of this case. David Pepper, by his own admission, was inexperienced and had never done one before. He completed a fairly superficial checkbox exercise.

“We conclude that each of these ten incidents constitutes an act of discrimination.

“We don’t consider that [Miss Thompson] should have been invited to perform one of these jobs given her pregnancy and more particularly in view of her history.

Compensation will be decided at a later hearing.

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