Mrs Conway began work as a residential social worker at a home in Redditch in
July 1994 and became a whistleblower, when she uncovered bad management
resigned and Mrs Conway experienced a long period of instability, with various
acting managers in charge. In September 1996 Mrs Conway was told that she was in
sole charge. Having received no additional training, Mrs Conway complained
to her employers about problems at the home that were also highlighted by
outside inspectors, who recommended that the home needed a permanent more
Mrs Conway said: 'It was the worst four years I've ever lived through. It could have been avoided if someone had simply listened. I kept telling everyone that I was
struggling and I felt that I was letting people down. Normally I am a very
confident bubbly person but stress destroyed a lot of things in my life. It
still upsets me when I think about what it's done to me and my family.
'Unison gave me a lot of help and support and I am very grateful to them. I
would advise anyone in a similar situation not to take it, but do
Mrs Conway's daughter, Karen Rhodes, commented: 'We lost our mum for over three years and she is only just coming back again now.'
Unison took the first ground-breaking stress case in 1994 for social worker
John Walker where the high court ruled that his stress was caused by his
employer leading to a nervous breakdown.
Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said:
'It is important that employers learn from these cases, and it is sad that
this is the fourth time that Unison has taken a successful stress claim
against Worcestershire CC. The financial costs involved in this case
are a drop in the ocean compared to the£5bn that stress costs employers
every year. And what is even harder to quantify is the human cost to
Thelma, her family and the many thousands of workers suffering from stress.
'Employers have a legal responsibility to protect the health of their
employees. I am pleased that we have been able to secure some compensation
for Thelma, which hopefully should make life a little easier, but the money
cannot make up for the fact that stress has put an end to a long and
Mrs Conway hopes that after further treatment and retraining she will be able to
return to hairdressing, a job she has not done since 1964.
* see LGCnetfor Worcestershire CC's comment today.