Northern Ireland

Doctor in ambulance crash to receive £1m in damages

Ambulance
Image caption Dr Cathy Armstrong was treating a swine flu patient when the ambulance crashed and overturned

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

The payout was agreed as part of a settlement reached in Dr Cathy Armstrong's lawsuit over the accident in County Fermanagh in January 2011.

The consultant anaesthetist was treating a critically ill patient en route to hospital when their ambulance was in collision with a truck.

A court was told her serious back injuries may have ended her career.

'Life-changing event'

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

Earlier this month, the High Court in Belfast heard that Dr Armstrong, now aged in her 50s, lived for her work and planned to continue as long as possible, before what was a "life-changing event".

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

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

It overtook the other truck as he was about to make a right turn on the main A4 road at Brookeborough.

'Foolhardy'

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

It was claimed that the truck driver's manoeuvre was "foolhardy in its mildest form", as he should have realised an ambulance was approaching if he had properly used his mirrors.

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

Proceedings were adjourned to allow out of court negotiations.

Dr Armstrong's barrister later announced that a settlement had been reached.

Although the exact terms are not being disclosed, legal sources have said she would receive a figure in excess of £1m, plus legal costs.