Somek & Associates' Jessica Thurston, Head of Medico-legal Operations and...
- To speak to one of the team, an expert, or for more information please contact us
Contact our office
Make an enquiry
MRes Clinical Research, PG Cert Sensory Integration, BSc Occupational Therapy
I am a paediatric occupational therapist, with specialist skills in neurodisability, respiratory care, and child development in the context of rare conditions, long-term hospital stays, and complex presentations. I have worked in children’s community, secondary and tertiary level care. I qualified in 2008 and took up a position in a secondary level hospital in South Africa. As the sole occupational therapist, I provided a comprehensive service for the 300-bed district hospital and seven outlying clinics. I prioritised service development within psychiatry, general surgery, and paediatrics. I emigrated to the United Kingdom in 2010.
In the UK, I held a community paediatrics role and worked for an independent practice before taking a position in a tertiary children’s hospital. I held this position between 2012 and 2021 and gained experience in a range of clinical areas. I worked in rheumatology, respiratory, and supported complex discharges across the hospital. My primary responsibilities were within a multidisciplinary, specialist neurodisability service. I contributed to developmental assessments for children with vision impairment, complex developmental presentations, and for families seeking second opinions in relation to their children’s developmental profiles.
In 2021, I took a position in a tertiary children’s hospital in the South West of England. I am the lead occupational therapist within the NHS National Barth Syndrome Service. This is an NHS England Specialised Service providing multi-disciplinary, treatment, and management for adults and children with Barth syndrome.
I have experience of a wide range of genetic, metabolic and neurological conditions, physical disabilities and complex medical needs. In my clinical role, I provide holistic assessments, treatment, and advice to families and children. This includes equipment and housing recommendations. I am particularly experienced in childhood vision impairment, social communication disorders (autism), long-term ventilation via tracheostomy/facial mask, and the effects of long-stay hospital admissions on developmental progress. I hold service development responsibilities within the multidisciplinary team, establishing the unique contribution of occupational therapy for children with vision impairments.
I was awarded funding from the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) and Health Education England (HEE) to complete a Master of Research in 2015/2016. My dissertation described the influence of vision level on the way that children with severe and profound vision impairment use their hands in the first three years of life. The degree was awarded with distinction and I presented this research both nationally and internationally. In 2020, I undertook an HEE/NIHR Bridging Fellowship to further develop my research skills. In addition, in 2013, I completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Sensory Integration, with distinction.
I accept instructions from both claimant and defendant solicitors and insurers. I have undergone formal training in the medico-legal process and am fully aware of my responsibilities under Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) pertaining to expert witnesses.