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Clinical Negligence Claims Against the NHS

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What is NHS clinical negligence?

Clinical negligence claims against the NHS, or National Health Service, occur when patients believe they have suffered harm or injury due to the negligence or substandard care provided by healthcare professionals working within the NHS. These claims can encompass various medical errors, including misdiagnosis, surgical errors, medication mistakes, birth injuries, and failures in treatment or follow-up care.

When patients or their families believe they have grounds for an NHS complaint and clinical negligence claim, they can pursue legal action against the NHS to seek compensation for the harm suffered. It is important to note that not all instances of medical treatment leading to negative outcomes qualify as clinical negligence. To establish a successful claim, several elements must be proven:

  • Duty of care: The patient must demonstrate that a duty of care existed between themselves and the healthcare professional or institution responsible for their care.
  • Breach of duty: It must be proven that the healthcare professional or institution breached their duty of care by providing substandard or negligent treatment. This is typically determined by comparing the actions of the healthcare provider to the accepted standards of care within the medical profession.
  • Causation: The patient must establish that the breach of duty directly caused or significantly contributed to their injury or harm. It must be shown that the harm suffered would not have occurred if not for the negligence.
  • Damages: The patient must demonstrate that they have suffered physical, emotional, or financial damages as a result of the negligence. These damages may include medical expenses, loss of earnings, pain and suffering, or ongoing care needs.

Clinical negligence claims against the NHS can be complex and involve lengthy legal processes. It is recommended that you pursue these claims through specialist medical negligence solicitors, such as our team at Beacon Law, who are experienced in handling such cases. The legal system aims to provide fair compensation to patients who have suffered harm due to clinical negligence while also considering the impact on healthcare providers and the NHS as a whole.

Types of NHS Negligence

Various types of clinical negligence can occur within the NHS. Here are some common examples:

  • Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis: This occurs when a healthcare professional fails to correctly diagnose a patient’s condition or delays the diagnosis, leading to a delay in treatment or the wrong treatment being administered.
  • Surgical errors: Surgical negligence can involve mistakes made during surgery, such as operating on the wrong body part, leaving surgical instruments inside the patient, or performing unnecessary surgeries.
  • Medication errors: This type of negligence includes prescribing the wrong medication, administering the wrong dosage, or failing to consider a patient’s allergies or potential drug interactions.
  • Birth injuries: Negligence during childbirth can lead to birth injuries to the mother or baby. This can include inadequate monitoring of the fetal heartbeat, improper use of delivery instruments, or failure to perform a timely cesarean section when necessary.
  • Anaesthesia errors: Mistakes made during the administration of anaesthesia, such as incorrect dosage or failure to monitor the patient properly, can result in serious complications or even death.
  • Inadequate nursing care: This involves instances where the standard of care provided by nurses falls below acceptable levels, leading to patient harm. It can include neglecting patients’ basic needs, failing to administer medication or treatments as prescribed, or not properly monitoring patients’ conditions.
  • Inadequate follow-up care: When healthcare professionals fail to provide appropriate follow-up care after a procedure or treatment, patients may suffer complications or their condition may worsen.

It’s important to note that these are just a few examples, and clinical negligence claims can arise from a wide range of circumstances. Each case is unique and must be evaluated based on its individual facts and circumstances.


Can you make a claim against the NHS?

You can make a claim against the NHS if you have suffered harm as a result of negligence by an NHS doctor or other healthcare professional. However, there are a number of factors that will need to be considered in order to determine whether you have a valid claim.

In order to make a claim against the NHS, you will need to prove that:

  • The medical professional owed you a duty of care
  • The health professional breached that duty of care
  • The breach of duty of care caused you harm
  • You have suffered loss as a result of the harm


What is the process of making a claim against the NHS?

To make a claim against the NHS, you would first contact a specialist medical negligence solicitor, such as the team at Beacon Law, who can assess the merits of your case and guide you through the legal process. Our team have experience in handling claims against the NHS and can provide you with the necessary guidance.

Your solicitor will assist you in gathering the relevant evidence to support your claim. This may include medical records, expert opinions, witness statements, and any other documentation that helps establish the negligence and its impact on your health.

Before initiating legal proceedings, your solicitor will follow the pre-action protocol, which involves notifying the NHS of your intention to make a claim and providing them with the details of your case. This gives them an opportunity to investigate and respond to your claim.

In many cases, a negotiated settlement can be reached between the parties involved. Your solicitor will work on your behalf to negotiate a fair compensation amount that takes into account your damages and losses. If a settlement cannot be reached through negotiation or if liability is disputed, your case may proceed to court. In such instances, your solicitor will represent your interests and guide you through the court process.

Who pays for the clinical negligence compensation?

The NHS operates a comprehensive indemnity scheme to cover the costs of clinical negligence claims. This scheme is known as the NHS Resolution (previously the NHS Litigation Authority) in England and the equivalent organisations in other parts of the United Kingdom, such as NHS Wales, NHS Scotland, and Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland.

The NHS Resolution is responsible for handling clinical negligence claims on behalf of NHS organisations. It manages the claims process, investigates claims, and determines whether compensation is due. When a claim is successful, the NHS Resolution or its equivalent organisation will pay the compensation awarded to the claimant.

Funding for clinical negligence compensation comes from the NHS budget, which is primarily funded by the UK government through taxpayer contributions. The NHS budget covers various costs, including healthcare services, staffing, infrastructure, and liabilities arising from clinical negligence claims.

How much could your claim be worth?

The value of a clinical negligence claim against the NHS can vary significantly depending on various factors, including the nature and severity of the injury or harm suffered, the impact on the claimant’s life, and the financial losses incurred as a result of the negligence. It is not possible to provide an accurate estimate of the potential value of any NHS compensation without a thorough evaluation of the specific circumstances by a qualified legal professional. They would consider various factors, such as:

  • Damages for pain, suffering, and loss of amenity: This includes compensation for the physical and emotional pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life experienced as a result of the negligence.
  • Past and future medical expenses: This encompasses the cost of medical treatments, surgeries, medications, therapies, and any other healthcare-related expenses resulting from the negligence.
  • Loss of earnings and future earning capacity: If the negligence has caused the claimant to suffer a loss of earnings or has impacted their ability to work in the future, compensation may be awarded to cover these financial losses.
  • Care and assistance: If the claimant requires ongoing care or assistance due to negligence, compensation may be provided to cover the costs of hiring caregivers or accessing support services.
  • Adaptations to living arrangements: In cases where the claimant requires adaptations to their home or vehicle to accommodate their injuries or disabilities, compensation may be awarded to cover these costs.
  • Other financial losses: This can include additional expenses incurred as a direct result of the negligence, such as travel costs for medical appointments or rehabilitation services.


How long do you have to make a claim against the NHS?

In the United Kingdom, the general time limit to make a clinical negligence claim against the NHS is three years from the date of the negligent incident or three years from the date when the patient became aware (or should have reasonably become aware) that negligence may have occurred. This time limit is set by the Limitation Act 1980.

However, there are some exceptions and variations to this general rule:

  • Minors: If the patient was under the age of 18 at the time of the negligent incident, the three-year time limit starts from their 18th birthday. In other words, they have until their 21st birthday to make a claim.
  • Adults lacking mental capacity: If the patient lacks the mental capacity to handle their own affairs, there is no time limit to bring a claim. The three-year time limit only begins once they regain mental capacity.
  • Fraud or concealment: If the negligence was deliberately concealed or fraudulent, the time limit may be extended to three years from the date when the negligence was discovered or could have reasonably been discovered.
  • Time extensions: In exceptional circumstances, the court has the discretion to extend the time limit if it deems it equitable to do so. This is rare and typically requires strong justification.

It is crucial to be aware of these time limits and seek legal advice promptly if you believe you have a clinical negligence claim against the NHS. Failing to initiate legal proceedings within the specified time frame may result in your claim being time-barred, meaning you will lose the right to pursue compensation.

How can Beacon Law assist?

Beacon Law are registered Solicitors in England and Wales who are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The registered office for Beacon Law is located in Cheshire.

Beacon Law are specialist solicitors in personal injury and have a clinical negligence team who are experts in bringing medical negligence claims against the NHS. The solicitors at Beacon Law hold vast experience in negligence claims and will deal with the claim in a professional manner. 

Your medical negligence case at Beacon Law will be under on a no win no fee basis, which vastly minimises the risk of incurring legal costs.

Under this agreement, you will not be required to pay our fees if your case is unsuccessful. If your case is successful, we will deduct our success fee from your compensation on conclusion of your case, alongside any additional fees.

There will be no upfront payment needed, and you will not need to worry about the risk of being in a worse financial situation should your compensation claim not succeed. To find out about our no win, no fee claim funding and the success fee, have a look at the funding section on our website. 

If you are an NHS patient and are thinking of suing an NHS organisation or an NHS trust for negligence, please contact a medical negligence solicitor at Beacon Law on 0330 1332 857.

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