Advice On Claims Against The NHS For Medical Negligence – NHS Claims Guide

By Daniel Leon. Last updated on 14th December 2021. Welcome to our guide on NHS medical negligence claims. If you can prove that you’ve been harmed due to negligent care by the National Health Service (NHS), you could be entitled to receive compensation. This guide is for anyone who needs advice on NHS medical negligence claims. There are certain procedures to follow if you wish to make a medical/clinical negligence compensation claim against a medical expert or NHS hospital.

NHS medical negligence claims

NHS medical negligence claims

Read on to learn more about the steps you need to follow when making a medical negligence claim. We’ll also explain the circumstances that can justify a claim against the NHS. We also explain how you can get expert advice and support for your potential medical negligence claim.

Get In Touch With Our Team

At UK Law, we can help to answer any questions you may have about NHS medical negligence claims. Are you looking specifically for advice on claims against the NHS? If so, our panel of lawyers can advise on any queries you may have about this specific type of claim. 

You’re more than welcome to get in touch with us for free specialist advice. You can contact us online through our live chat service or by filling in our claim online form. Alternatively, you can reach us on the phone by calling 020 3870 4868

Services And Information

  1. Everything You Need To Know About Advice On NHS Medical Negligence Claims
  2. What Is A Claim Against The NHS?
  3. When Could You Claim Against The NHS?
  4. The NHS Constitution And Duty Of Care
  5. Calculating Compensation For NHS Medical Negligence Claims
  6. Additional Compensation Schemes
  7. NHS Resolution Compensation
  8. Proving Negligent Medical Care By The NHS
  9. How Much Time Do I Have To Claim Against The NHS
  10. I Was Harmed By Negligent NHS Care, What Should I Do?
  11. Do You Handle Claims For Negligent NHS Care On A No Win No Fee Basis?
  12. Contact Us For More Help
  13. Other Information
  14. FAQs About NHS Medical Negligence

Everything You Need To Know About Advice On NHS Medical Negligence Claims

If you experience an injury or illness through medical negligence in the UK, then it may have occurred while under the care of the NHS. 

The NHS has a duty of care for every single patient they treat. Things can, however, sometimes go wrong when a patient is under the care of the NHS and injury and/or illness can follow. 

You could be entitled to compensation from the NHS if it can be proven that someone in the organisation acted negligently and it directly caused you an injury or illness. 

Before starting a potential compensation claim against the NHS, it is important to consider the circumstances which justify such action. It’s also important to get an understanding of what procedures to expect if you do want to start a claim against the NHS.

If you have any questions while reading this guide, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on the number at the top of this page.

What Is A Claim Against The NHS?

You can make a claim against the NHS if you can demonstrate that negligence on the part of an NHS healthcare provider caused your injury, illness or a worsening of your condition. In order for you to be able to claim, you’d need to show that the negative repercussions would not have occurred were it not for the healthcare provider’s negligence. Medical negligence claims such as these are made across the country every year.

The graph below shows the relevant figures. As you can see, clinical negligence claims cost the NHS  £2,209 million in 2020/21. these figures have been taken from the NHS Annual Resolution Report for this period.

NHS medical negligence statistics graph

NHS medical negligence statistics graph

When Could You Claim Against The NHS?

You could be entitled to make a compensation claim against the NHS if you can evidence that you suffered harm following a breach in the duty of care that was owed to you. Medical negligence by the NHS can come in different forms and lead to various issues. You may suffer an injury or illness as a result of medical negligence. Or an existing injury or illness may be made worse as a consequence.

Reasons for starting a medical negligence claim against the NHS could include one of the following:

  • You contracted an infection while receiving treatment
  • Treatment was received late and your health deteriorated as a result
  • You were not warned about the risks of a particular treatment
  • An error was made while you were receiving surgical treatment
  • You received a treatment you did not consent to
  • Your condition was misdiagnosed and your health deteriorated as a result
  • You received the wrong medication for your condition
  • There were issues during childbirth that caused birth injuries to the mother and/or child

These are just some examples of the possible reasons why someone would want to start a clinical negligence claim against the NHS. Regardless of the exact circumstances, there are a few key questions that need to be answered to determine if a claim against the NHS has a realistic chance of success.

  • Did your injury/illness occur due to the NHS breaching the duty of care is owed to you?
  • Can you prove that the negligent behaviour occurred?
  • Are you able to show that the negligent behaviour directly caused or contributed to the injury/illness you’ve suffered?

If you are able to answer yes to all of these questions above, then you likely have a strong case for claiming compensation. Feel free to contact UK Law now if you need more advice on NHS medical negligence claims.

The NHS Constitution And Duty Of Care

Every medical professional in the UK is legally required to maintain their duty of care towards patients. This includes doctors, nurses, dentists and other medical staff working for the NHS. 

The duty of care which NHS staff in England must follow is explained in the NHS Constitution. The NHS in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own similar (but separate) policies.

The NHS Constitution explains the principles and values of the NHS. It also explains the rights, pledges and responsibilities for patients and staff within the NHS. The pledges and values are commitments that the NHS aims to achieve, but they are not legally binding. Putting patients first and treating everyone with respect and dignity are some of the values laid out in the NHS Constitution.

Legal rights for NHS patients

The rights set out for patients are protected by law. These legal rights you have as a patient in the NHS include but are not limited to the following:

  • You can receive NHS services for free, except in certain limited circumstances. You should not be refused access to these services on unreasonable grounds.
  • Unlawful discrimination is not allowed when receiving NHS services.
  • All care you receive should be at a professional standard.
  • You have the right to accept or refuse treatments offered to you. You should not receive a physical examination or treatment unless you’ve provided valid consent.
  • If you are unable to provide valid consent for treatment on your own, then consent must be given by someone who can legally act on your behalf. Treatment may be given without consent, but only if it can be proven that it’s in your best interests.

If, as a patient, one of your legal rights under the NHS Constitution is broken, then it may be best to first report it through the NHS complaints procedure. The NHS recommends using their complaints procedure before making a compensation claim. 

It’s possible that the issue that breached your legal rights and possibly harmed you as well could be resolved before a claim becomes necessary. In some cases, you may still want to proceed with a claim even if your complaint has been investigated. However, filing a complaint to the NHS first could provide you with some valuable information.

If you want more advice on making a complaint, please get in touch with our team.

Calculating Compensation For NHS Medical Negligence Claims

You may be wondering how much compensation you could realistically receive when claiming against the NHS. The answer to this is that it depends on the circumstances of your case. 

Numerous factors are usually taken into account when compensation is being worked out for a medical negligence case. These can include the injuries and illnesses you’ve suffered from negligence, the severity of those issues and financial losses caused directly by the medical negligence.

Compensation for clinical negligence by the NHS can not just cover physical injuries, but potentially cover the mental harm suffered. Both physical and mental injuries covered by a compensation payout fall under a head of a claim known as general damages. 

In the table below, you can calculate the potential compensation you may receive in your claim against the NHS based on certain injuries you may have suffered due to negligence. The figures are based on estimates from the Judicial College Guidelines. These guideline figures may be used by solicitors to value injuries.

InjurySeverityCompensation
Illness/Damage Resulting from Non-traumatic InjurySevere£36,060 to £49,270
Illness/Damage Resulting from Non-traumatic InjurySerious But Short-Lived£8,950 to £18,020
Illness/Damage Resulting from Non-traumatic InjurySignificant Discomfort For A Few Weeks£3,710 to £8,950
Illness/Damage Resulting from Non-traumatic InjuryDisabling Pain For Some Days Or Weeks£860 to £3,710
Mental AnguishFear Of Impending Death/Reduction In Expectation Of Life£4,380
Psychiatric Damage GenerallySevere£51,460 to £108,620
Psychiatric Damage GenerallyModerately Severe£17,900 to £51,460
Psychiatric Damage GenerallyModerate£5,500 to £17,900
Psychiatric Damage GenerallyLess Severe£1,440 to £5,500
Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderSevere£56,180 to £94,470
Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderModerately Severe£21,730 to £56,180
Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderModerate£7,680 to £21,730
Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderLess Severe£3,710 to £7,680

In addition to general damages like the examples above, your compensation may cover financial losses under special damages. Examples of losses your compensation could cover under special damages may include:

  • Money spent on medical care which treated injuries or illness caused by the negligence.
  • The cost of travel required to receive the necessary medical care.
  • Loss of earnings if the NHS negligence you suffered caused you to take unpaid time off work.

If you are considering a claim against the NHS, you can contact UK Law to receive a more precise estimate of your potential compensation.

Additional Compensation Schemes

There are schemes in place which could provide additional compensation following certain injuries caused by medical negligence. Depending on the circumstances, you may have the right to access one of these additional compensation schemes.

As an example, the government can offer what’s called the Vaccine Damage Payment. This one-off, tax-free payment could be given if you become severely disabled due to a vaccination you received against certain diseases.

NHS Resolution Compensation

When a medical negligence claim is made against the NHS, it is usually represented by a section of the organisation called NHS Resolution (previously called the NHS Litigation Authority). 

NHS Resolution (or NHSR for short) maintains a database of all NHS medical negligence claims. This includes potential claims and recorded incidents where legal action hasn’t been started yet, but the patient involved has indicated they are going to claim.

Proving Negligent Medical Care By The NHS

You may be asking yourself a question along the lines of ‘can you claim against the NHS?’ 

If you have good reason to believe the NHS has behaved negligently towards you, the answer is likely yes. To succeed with your claim, you’ll need to show that the treatment you received from the organisation was delivered in a negligent manner. That means the care fell below reasonably expected standards. 

To do this, it may be necessary to utilise the Bolam Test. This involves proving that the treating practitioner acted in a way that a responsible body of medical professionals in the same field would regard as unacceptable. If they did not act in a way that their peers would have done, this could be evidence of negligence.

You also need to show that the negligent behaviour directly caused or contributed to any injuries or illnesses which you are claiming for.

When putting together a medical negligence claim, there are certain types of evidence which you could gather. Usable evidence could include medical records. A solicitor you hire may be able to help you get these. You could also possibly use photographs as evidence plus a detailed statement from yourself. Witnesses such as family members may be able to provide statements as evidence too.

Proving medical negligence can in some cases be tricky, so it’s worth consulting legal experts about your potential case as soon as you can. If you’re looking for advice on NHS medical negligence claims, you can contact UK Law now for free specialist advice from our panel of clinical negligence lawyers.

How Much Time Do I Have To Claim Against The NHS

The general time limit regarding starting a medical negligence claim is 3 years from the date of the injury. This is stated in the Limitation Act 1980.

However, this time limit can be adjusted for various reasons. One of these reasons can be especially relevant to NHS medical negligence claims. This is because the effects of negligent behaviour by a medical professional are not always noticed right away. For example, you may have been misdiagnosed.

This could lead to you being prescribed the wrong medication. Taking this incorrect medication may only negatively impact your health after a certain length of time. Because of this, there may not be a definitive date you were injured. So, as an alternative, some claimants can use their “date of knowledge” as the start of their 3 -year time limit.

Child Injury Claims

The time limit can also work slightly differently if the injured party is under 18. Children cannot make a medical negligence claim themselves. For this reason, their time limit is suspended. That means there is no time limit for their claim to be made until they reach adulthood.

However, during this time, their claim can only be made for them by a litigation friend. This is an adult representative who must prove to the court that they have the child’s best interests at heart. It may be a parent or guardian, but this is not a requirement. It can also be another relative, a family friend, or even a legal professional.

The litigation friend is not awarded any NHS medical negligence payouts directly if the case is successful. Compensation would be transferred into a bank account that only the child can access, and only from their 18th birthday.

Withdrawals before this date can be applied for. However, a judge must be able to establish that the withdrawals are to the direct benefit of the child.

Should the injured child wish to make a claim themselves, they can do so. But, this is only possible once they turn 18, provided a claim has already been made. This is also the date that their 3-year time limit would begin if the claim has not already been made for them.

NHS Medical Negligence Claims On Behalf Of Those With A Reduced Mental Capacity

If you want to make a claim against the NHS for medical negligence, the time limit can also be suspended for those with a reduced mental capacity. The inability to make a claim for themselves could be due to their injuries, or it could be due to circumstances that predate the incident of medical negligence.

Regardless, their time limit will only begin in the event that their mental capacity returns to a point where they are deemed able to make a claim themselves. Before this time, the claim can only be made for them by a litigation friend.

I Was Harmed By Negligent NHS Care, What Should I Do?

If you are harmed by negligent NHS care, you could be entitled to compensation. However, you may be unsure of what steps to follow after the incident. 

Your first priority should be to get medical care for the harm you’ve suffered due to medical negligence. You should obtain any medical evidence from the treatment you receive, such as a medical report and discharge letters. This could prove useful later when putting together your compensation claim.

When you’ve received the required medical care, you should then collect other evidence which could support your claim. Potential evidence could include photos, medical records and statements from yourself and certain witnesses.

After gathering all the evidence you can get, you could start the process of making a claim if you wish. If that’s the case, you may then want to contact a specialist solicitor as soon as you can. 

We strongly recommend choosing a solicitor who has experience in handling medical negligence claims. If you can hire a solicitor who has dealt with NHS medical negligence claims before, that could also prove an advantage for you.

Your chosen solicitor can review your potential case and assess how likely it is to succeed. If your solicitor is happy to push forward with your case, you can then sign an agreement with them.

Before pushing forward with making a claim, you may want to submit a complaint to the NHS beforehand. You are entitled to make a complaint about any aspect of NHS care, treatment or service. 

A complaint to the NHS may not be able to resolve your issue, but an investigation into it could at least provide you with useful information. You can contact UK Law for free specialist advice on how to claim for negligent NHS care.

Do You Handle NHS Medical Negligence Claims On A No Win No Fee Basis?

Our panel of lawyers can provide a No Win No Fee service for clinical negligence claims. This type of agreement can offer you a degree of financial protection. Benefits of a No Win No Fee agreement include the following:

  • If your case proves unsuccessful, you will not be required to pay your solicitor’s legal fees.
  • This should mean that your solicitor will work hard on your case since they face more risk.
  • You won’t need to pay any solicitor fees upfront or while your case is being set up.

Following a successful claim under a No Win No Fee agreement, your solicitor will take a small percentage from your compensation to cover their fees. The details of how your payment works should be included in your contract with your solicitor. You can review these terms before signing the agreement.

Contact Us For More Help

Looking for advice on NHS medical negligence claims? At UK Law, we can support a wide range of these claims. Our panel of lawyers can provide free specialist advice in response to any queries you may have about claiming compensation. You are welcome to contact us through one of the following methods:

Other Information

Looking for more information that could prove useful when making a medical negligence claim? If so, you can make use of the resources linked to below:

A guide to medical negligence compensation claims

In this guide, we look into how different types of medical negligence claims work. This includes cases where you may wish to claim against a private healthcare provider, rather than the NHS.

Can you sue on behalf of someone else?

You may wish to start a medical negligence claim on behalf of someone else (like a child). If so, you can check out the guide linked above to learn more about representing another person when making a personal injury claim.

First aid negligence claims

This guide explains how you could receive compensation for injuries caused to you while administering first aid.

NHS Constitution – Interactive version

This PDF is an interactive version of the NHS constitution. This detailed document includes many hyperlinks which provide additional info on different aspects of the constitution.

General Medical Council- Duties of a Doctor

This outlines the duties that a good doctor is expected to adhere to in order to meet the expected standards.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) 

Your declining health caused by medical negligence might mean that you have to take time off work. This page could help you determine whether you could receive SSP if you’ve not been paid in full for the time you have had to take off.

FAQs About NHS Medical Negligence

Can you sue the NHS for medical negligence?

You are entitled to claim compensation from the NHS if you can prove that an injury or illness you’ve suffered was caused by medical negligence on the part of the organisation.

What qualifies as medical negligence?

Medical negligence is when a medical professional delivers substandard care to a patient, causing them to suffer an injury or illness. It may alternatively (or in addition) cause an existing condition the patient has to become worse.

How much compensation do you get for medical negligence UK?

The amount of potential compensation given for a medical negligence case in the UK can vary wildly. It depends heavily on the type and severity of the injuries and illnesses suffered due to negligent behaviour.

Thanks for reading our guide for those looking for advice on NHS medical negligence claims.