Fed up with the run around she has been getting from Government, a former Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) nurse says she is heading to Parliament tomorrow in a last-ditch attempt to get members of the Freundel Stuart Government to attend to her plight.
Ex-QEH nurse Coral Wilkinson, who suffered a back injury while on the job in April 1981, told Barbados TODAY this morning she was now at her wits end, and left with no other choice but to try to appeal directly to Stuart and other members of his Cabinet, in the hope that they would listen to her cry for urgent settlement to her more than three-decades-old case for compensation.
She said despite earlier assurances from both the Prime Minister and Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite her case remains unresolved.
Wilkinson said she had spoken to the Prime Minister back in 2009 as well as on Mother’s Day this year and he had assured her that he would talk to the Attorney General on her behalf that same day (May 8, 2016).
“Since then, I called Mr Brathwaite twice and left messages on the phone but he never returned my call,” a despondent Wilkinson told Barbados TODAY.
She also pointed out that immediately after her story was carried in Barbados TODAY last December, Brathwaite had responded saying that he had given the go ahead for her claim to be settled.
However, with every passing day that her file continues to languish on the desk of Solicitor General Jennifer Edwards, QC, Wilkinson’s pain gets worse and the chances diminish that the surgery which she now desperately needs will bring her the relief that she most longs for.
Wilkinson was walking up the stairs in the antenatal clinic in April 1981 when she fell and damaged her neck. She suffered a slipped disc which still presses against the nerves and the bone in her lower back which supports her upper body weight. The St Thomas resident also said in recent months her physical health had deteriorated so badly that headaches had become a normal part of her existence. Her entire left side is smaller and her right side is getting weaker as she awaits the surgery that will replace the faulty discs in her neck.
“I am so absent-minded that I asked my psychiatrist if I’m going crazy but she said no, it is not dementia, it is just that I am so overworked and at night my mind goes off wandering all over the place,” said Wilkinson, whose illness is taking a serious toll.
“If my comb drops on the floor, I can’t pick it up. I can’t pick it up unless someone comes to pick it up for me. And there are some days I am here alone with the windows closed, because there is nobody to push the windows up. I can get them down, but I can’t get them up,” she said, adding that though her head hurts, there was no sense in taking any medication since relief could only come in the form of surgery.
Efforts today to reach the Solicitor General for comment were unsuccessful.
However, back in February Wilkinson said she had received a letter from Principal Crown Counsel Roger Barker, who was handling the case on behalf of the Solicitor General, offering her $145,159.70 so she could have the cervical surgery done in Britain.
That offer was rejected in a letter dated March 12, 2015 from Wilkinson’s attorney Sir Richard Cheltenham, QC, who argued that “to offer the meagre sum in full satisfaction of her case, is virtually to condemn her to remaining in her presently helpless condition”.
While suggesting the sum of $400,000 instead, Sir Richard advised that the Solicitor General’s offer did not even cover the cost of the medical team in England, whose maximum fee is £33,000, neither did it include the expenses of going to England, which comprised such things as air travel, food, accommodation, internal travel and per diem allowance.
Since then, Sir Richard reported that he had spoken to the Solicitor General back in April and that a settlement should be forthcoming this month.
However, Wilkinson said when she checked with Sir Richard’s secretary last week she was told that all calls to the Solicitor General’s Office had gone unanswered.