Holiday operator Thomas Cook has paid compensation to UNISON member Stacey Sewell who developed long-term bowel problems after contracting salmonella on a four star package holiday.
Stacey Sewell, 32, from Warrington, was left bed-bound during the two-week stay at the Hotel Rio Waikiki in Playa del Ingles, Gran Canaria when she contracted the serious food poisoning bug through food served at the all inclusive hotel.
UNISON member Mrs Sewell was on holiday with her sons, then aged seven and five, her husband and parents after booking the trip through Thomas Cook in June 2008.
Their relaxing break became a living nightmare and when she returned home she was rushed to hospital and put on a drip for four days.
The former care worker already suffered from the bowel condition colitis, which was being controlled by medication. As a result of the salmonella her colitis flared up significantly and she suffered severe symptoms for more than a year. Even when the colitis went into remission however, Mrs Sewell had ongoing bowel problems which were worse than before. She had to give up work because she was in so much pain and was eventually diagnosed with the additional problem of post infective IBS which her medical expert stated was caused by the salmonella.
Now Mrs Sewell is caught in a painful cycle which sees the IBS flare up. She has been told that she may need to have her bowel removed to control the colitis but that will not stop the painful side effects of the IBS.
Her health means she cannot work and she finds it difficult to sleep or to socialise.
Following her holiday she contacted her trade union UNISON, which provides free legal support to members. Thomas Cook admitted liability and settled the claim out of court for more than £22,000.
Mrs Sewell said: “When I became sick on holiday I thought it was just a stomach bug but I ended up in bed for most of our time away and was so weak when I returned home that I had to go into hospital.
“I thought that things would settle down but over the weeks and months I continued to suffer from a bad stomach. I knew it was different to the colitis but it was causing my colitis to flare up which meant in the end I had to give up work. It was a relief to finally be given a diagnosis but it is frustrating to know that my health has been affected long term by contracting salmonella on holiday.
“I’m pleased that my case has finally concluded and I plan now to concentrate on my health. I’m determined to get back to a position where I can lead a normal life and get back to work again.”
Kevan Nelson, Head of UNISON in the North West, said: “This case shows how trade union legal services are there for members both in and outside of work. Stacey suffered – and is still suffering – because the four star hotel she stayed at did not prepare food as safely and healthy as they should have done. She went away with her family to have a break from the stresses and strains of life but returned with a lot more to worry about. It is only right that Thomas Cook compensated her for everything she has been through and as her union, UNISON was there for her every step of the way.”
Clare Goldberg from Thompsons Solicitors said: “When families book an all-inclusive holiday like this they expect to return home refreshed and recharged. For Mrs Sewell and her family their dream break turned into a nightmare, which is still ongoing as a result of the long term health problems the salmonella has caused.”