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Lawyer claims NHS failed in duty of care

A LAWYER representing the family of a speech therapist who drowned after her car crashed into a loch in a storm has alleged her employers failed to protect her.

Lorna Macdonald, 26, who worked for NHS Western Isles, died after her car veered off the road to Stornoway following a home visit in Leverburgh, South Harris, on November 24, 2011.

In closing speeches to a fatal accident inquiry into the death yesterday at Stornoway Sheriff Court, solicitor Angus Macdonald said the board had failed in its duty of care to Ms Macdonald.

He said that given the bad weather that often prevails in the Western Isles, it should have had a specific policy for the safety of lone workers travelling between appointments in outlying areas.

Mr Macdonald claimed the 70mph storm had been predicted and any 'reasonable' employer would have called Ms Macdonald to stop her travelling to such a remote area. He also alleged Ms Macdonald's line manager tried to pin the blame on the decision to travel with the employee. The solicitor went onto say the family were "appalled" at the "shirking of responsibility" which ignores the duty of care an employer has towards its staff.

He said a recent rule that prevents concerned staff driving in winds over 40mph "amounts to an acceptance that Lorna shouldn't have been allowed to travel".

Severe weather played a role but the actual reason for her car leaving the road will never be known, it has been agreed at the hearing.

The family dispute that Ms Macdonald, of Stornoway, would have been driving too fast for the conditions, the hearing was told. She was in the loch for 40 minutes after emergency crews arrived at the scene.

Mr Macdonald also criticised police, saying they had failed to secure the scene until it had been examined properly.

A determination is to be published at a later date.

Contextual targeting label: 
Transport Tragedy

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