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NHS claims & compensation

NHS claims & compensation

How much can you claim?

A 41 year old man was underwent a transplant procedure where he was mistakenly given a cancerous kidney, forcing him to undergo dialysis and radiotherapy. He was awarded:

£39,600

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NHS medical negligence claims

Medical negligence whilst uncommon can have a big impact on your life and wellbeing.

We rely on the NHS to provide care for us and our families throughout our lives, from dental care and vaccinations through to birth and health emergencies. We place our trust in the professionals of the NHS and the pride the UK has in this institution is well deserved. While NHS staff perform their duties brilliantly in the vast majority of cases, there are some instances when things don’t go to plan; mistakes are made, symptoms are missed and illnesses go undiagnosed.

NHS clinical negligence can be experienced in many different ways, depending upon how you’ve interacted with the organisation. From GP visits and routine checkups, to emergency care and cancer treatment, the NHS handles millions of patients every year, which unfortunately means many ways in which you could be let down. When faced with medical negligence, many clients feel unsure about whether their lives will return to normal, or if they face a constant life-long battle. Despite this, there is often a feeling that there is ‘nothing to be done’ or that, due to stretched resources, we have to accept that these mistakes can happen.

The most commonly experienced NHS negligence claims are where patients experience delayed diagnosis or treatment which often leads to their condition worsening. Misdiagnosis is also quite common, meaning treatment may be unsuitable or unnecessary, and medical injury can occur, where an avoidable mistake is made during a procedure. Every case is unique and we promise to guide you through the process of making an NHS claim, ensuring you know what’s happening every step of the way, while making the process as easy for you as possible.

The NHS is the most relied upon medical service in the UK, providing medical care at every stage of your life, but it doesn’t mean mistakes made during your care should be ignored. Our team of expert NHS claims solicitors have worked on many clinical negligence cases, and will bring compassion and understanding to you and your case. We have also worked on behalf of families who have lost loved ones due to NHS negligence, so if you are looking to make a claim for a friend or relative, we can help you through this process as well.

Due to the potentially life-altering changes medical negligence can cause, we never underestimate the psychological affects you may have experienced, and will do our best to provide the support you need. So, if your health has been affected by poor care, errors or misdiagnosis, and you wish to seek compensation from the NHS for negligence and the cost of your ongoing treatment and care, contact us for a free phone consultation.

For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

The time limit on NHS claims

If you believe you have a claim against the NHS, it’s always beneficial to start the process as soon as possible. Your medical records and investigations will be more readily available, and your ability to recall the events will be clearer in your mind - all of which will help when we put your case together.

By law, there is a three year time limit from the negligent treatment or from your ‘date of knowledge’, when you learned that a mistake on your medical professional’s part led to your current pain or suffering. Attempting to make a claim after the 3 years will often mean your case is considered ‘statute barred’ or ‘out of time’ under the Limitation Act of 1980, Section 11.

If you are unsure if you’re within this time period, you can contact us and we will advise you on your case based upon the information you provide us. After this free initial phone consultation, one of our NHS compensation solicitors will study your case, getting a feel for your circumstances, the problems you’re facing and the consequences of your injury. If they feel that the NHS service you accessed didn’t do something, or missed something that they shouldn’t have, they will go on to request copies of your medical records, with your permission. We will then tell you if we believe you have a NHS compensation claim that will succeed or not.

Throughout your NHS claim, Your Legal Friend will help you every step of the way

  • Specialist team of NHS medical negligence solicitors
  • A wealth of knowledge and expertise
  • Advice, support and guidance throughout your claim
  • No win, no fee – guaranteed
  • Over 30 years’ experience in personal injury compensation
I am very happy and satisfied with the settlement you achieved for me and the service was excellent and thank you very much

Mrs E. Swaffield

Our NHS medical negligence experience

With years of medical negligence experience, our legal team has worked on a variety of NHS malpractice cases, so we understand what a difficult decision it can be to make a claim against the NHS.

That’s why we are committed to guiding you through every step of the claims process, making it as easy as possible for you by providing updates and reminders, if you need. We ensure your claim is handled with care and professionalism at every stage by our experienced NHS claims solicitors, who will work alongside medical experts to guarantee the best results for you and your family.

Our medical negligence team is headed by medical lawyer Laura Morgan who has a wealth of experience in leading complicated, high value medical negligence cases.

Laura is a recognised medical lawyer and a leader in the field of medical negligence and clinical negligence law. Laura has acted in a wide range of medical malpractice cases over her 17 years of practice and has particular expertise in acting for children who have suffered brain injury due to mismanaged birth or surgical errors, and in managing claims that have resulted in the death of a loved one. Laura has achieved a number of large settlements including £5.4 million for a 7 year old and £4 million for an 11 year old child.

Laura’s expertise in clinical negligence law and dedication to her clients is recognised in the Chambers guide to the Legal Profession in which she was praised for the efficiency of her approach to case handling and described as “tenacious and detail-oriented”.

Laura has been a member of the Law Society Clinical Negligence Panel since 2005 and accredited as a Senior Litigator in the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) since 2006. Laura is also a member of the specialist lawyers panel for Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA), the UK’s leading charity committed to patient safety and justice.

If you would like us to advise you as to whether you can pursue an NHS claim, please call our freephone number or submit your details via the online form and we will contact you to schedule a free initial phone consultation at a time that suits you. If you decide that you want to proceed with a claim, one of our NHS malpractice lawyers will be able to tell you whether you can enter into a No Win, No Fee agreement*, meaning that in the event that your claim is unsuccessful, you won’t have to pay any legal costs so there’s no financial risk to you.

The effects of medical negligence can be devastating for the individual and their families, so securing appropriate compensation for them as quickly as possible is our top priority.

Laura Morgan
Director of Medical Negligence

*Our No Win, No Fee agreement

Put simply – you pay nothing if you lose your case, and get maximum compensation if you win.

Whatever the nature of your NHS claim, we always seek the maximum amount of compensation for you – and if your case is unsuccessful, we don’t charge you any fees. This is our guarantee for all standard NHS malpractice cases.

With our no win, no fee guarantee, you pay nothing, unless you win your compensation claim. At that point you will only pay your insurance premium, if applicable, and the success fee, which will never be more than 25% of the amount you win. However, in some cases we, such as those involving Cerebral Palsy, you won’t pay a success fee; instead this will be paid by the opposition.

Start your claim in 10 minutes

For a FREE, confidential, no-obligation assessment of your claim, simply complete this short form. We aim to call you back within 10 minutes.


For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

The NHS medical negligence claims process

Step 1 - Obtaining your medical records

We will ask you to sign forms of authority so that we can obtain your medical records from your GP and any NHS hospitals that have treated you. 

Step 2 - Providing your statement of what happened

We will work with you to draft a detailed, accurate statement in your own words, so the medical experts we work with know what happened.

Step 3 - Minimising your loss

You are responsible for minimising the losses you have incurred as a result of the alleged NHS clinical negligence. This means you need to attend any and all available treatments that could help your recovery, and you may need to return to work as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Step 4 - Establishing that a breach of duty occurred

To do this, we obtain independent medical evidence from an expert in an appropriate area of medicine in order to prove that the treatment received fell below the expected standard. Clinical negligence law states that you must prove that the treatment fell below the standard expected of a reasonably competent and skilful medical specialist, and that, as a result, you suffered a loss or injury. 

Step 5 - Establishing the effect of the breach of duty

We have to establish whether the poor treatment you received is likely to have led to your injury or loss.  As this can be difficult to establish, you may need to see more than one medical expert to assess your current condition and what the future may hold for you.

Step 6 - Calculating the value of your claim

The value of your NHS claim comprises:

  • general damages for the pain, suffering and impact of the negligence on your daily life, both now and in the future
  • actual financial losses such as loss of earnings, cost of care, medical and travel expenses.

Step 7 - Proving your loss

You need to keep all original financial documents safe, this includes accounts, payslips, receipts for expenses and medical treatments and anything else you think relevant. These will be needed when we prepare your case to go to Court.

Step 8 - Preparing your case for Court

Although only a small number of cases proceed to a trial, we prepare every case for this eventuality. In 2016/17, only 0.7%% of cases handled on behalf of the NHS end up in court.

Step 9 - Attending the trial in Court

The trial takes place before a Circuit or High Court judge who will make a decision based on the evidence your specialist lawyer has prepared.

Step 10 - Awarding your compensation claim

If you win your case, the amount of compensation will be decided by negotiation with the defendant, who in this case will be the NHS, or if your case goes to trial, by the judge.  The defendant will usually be ordered to pay us the costs we have incurred in preparing your case.  We will also agree a date by which your compensation will be paid to us so that we can pay your compensation to you as quickly as possible.

Frequently asked questions

What is NHS medical negligence?

The NHS treats millions of people every year, and in the majority of cases this goes exactly to plan with patients receiving the high standards of care expected. On rare occasions, things go wrong and mistakes are made, resulting in avoidable illness, injury and death. These mistakes are what we call medical negligence.

While there’s no exact and explicit definition of medical negligence, it can generally be explained as a situation in which a medical professional provides improper or substandard care which later results in illness or injury. They may not have carried out their medical obligations and responsibilities correctly leading to your medical neglect, which could have been avoided if they had provided the right standard of care.

Quite often, the basic legal test for medical negligence in the NHS, and other healthcare providers, is known as the Bolam test – the result of a direction handed down by the judge McNair J in the case of Bolam v Friern Hospital Management Committee

'A doctor is not guilty of negligence if he has acted in accordance with a practice accepted as proper by a responsible body of medical men skilled in that particular art’. McNair J, 1957

This is usually interpreted as a medical professional is not guilty of negligence if another professional would have acted the same under the similar circumstances. However, the Bolitho test may also be applied. In this case, rather than asking ‘what would the majority have done?’, we ask ‘what should have been done?’ In the eyes of the law, defence can’t then rely on what the majority would have done if the procedure itself is indefensible.

If you feel you have experienced medical neglect and wish to sue the NHS, you must be aware that while you may receive compensation for your illness or injuries, it does not necessarily mean you will receive an apology or that medical processes and procedures will change. It also doesn’t guarantee that the medical professional responsible will be disciplined or struck off. Seeking a NHS compensation claim is about getting recognition for the suffering and pain you have experienced, and ensuring you get the right financial help to live as normal a life as possible.

How do I make a claim against the NHS?

If you decide to make a claim against the NHS, you can always try to handle it yourself, or you can discuss your situation with one of our NHS claims solicitors who would handle the case on your behalf if they believe it can succeed.

Whichever route you choose, the circumstances need to be thoroughly investigated and substantiated in a way that looks to prove the fault lies with the medical professional. Our knowledge of the process can help ensure you attain the greatest level of compensation appropriate to your circumstances.

If you do decide to use a solicitor and choose Your Legal friend, your claims process will start with a free telephone consultation. These can last anywhere up to an hour, depending upon the complexity of your case as we will seek to determine what happened to you, why you feel you suffered negligence at the hands of the NHS and what medical treatment you did or didn’t receive. If we feel something doesn’t sound right, or there has very obviously been an issue, we may ask your permission to request your medical records from the hospital, GP or trust in question, so we can investigate further. If we then find evidence of malpractice or negligent care, we will contact you to ask if you would like to proceed with your claim.

At this point, it is entirely your decision if you wish to claim or not. If you agree to continue you can sign up to a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis. If your NHS claim is unsuccessful, you’ll pay nothing, so there’s no risk to you. If your claim is successful, depending upon the severity, you will be charged 25% of your damages, plus the cost of an ATE premium to insure you against any unexpected costs and challenges during the course of the claim. There are some medical cases however where there might not be a deduction, such as with cerebral palsy cases, but you’ll be made aware of any potential deductions from the outset.

Can I sue the NHS?

If you have experienced medical negligence because of any service under the NHS, including GP or dental treatment, you may be eligible to make a claim. If you make a claim, the NHS is represented by the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA), a legal body that deals with all claims made against the NHS. So, in summary, it is possible to make a claim, and there is a professional body ready to deal with it on their behalf.

Stories of the NHS being under pressure are published regularly and many people believe that the number of claims being made is huge, particularly because the budget for the operation of NHS Resolution and the NHSLA increasing from £26 billion in 2014 to £65 billion in 2017. However, of all the people that use the NHS, as few as 0.005% make a claim for negligence, and of that small amount 44.2% never receive any damages. Those few that do claim go through the process for unique and very personal reasons with supporting themselves and their families often a major one. Other reasons include pursuing changes to procedure, seeking an apology, or trying to ensure staff ‘face the music’, but these outcomes cannot be promised by pursuing compensation from the NHS, it’s likely you could win your case but not achieve any of these other goals.

We understand how difficult it can be to make the decision to claim NHS compensation, but no one should have to suffer the physical, psychological and financial aftermath of clinical negligence simply because it was the NHS that failed them. If you would like to talk to us about your claim in order to understand the process or to help get better informed on your decision to pursue a claim, please contact us for a free telephone consultation.

Should I sue the NHS?

‘Suing’ for medical negligence is much the same as pursuing a claim. In either case, making a claim against the NHS is your choice and you should only do so if you really want to. We will never pressure you into making a claim you don’t want. What our NHS claim advisors will do is advise you if your claim is likely to be successful or not.

You may also be concerned about making a claim because of reports by the media stating that claims are putting a strain on the NHS, with the belief that these claims are crippling the NHS and may be leading to more accidents and injuries. However, of the millions of people treated every year as few as 0.005% make a claim against the NHS, and of that small number, only 44.2% ever see any damages awarded to them.

If you are trying to cope with illness or pain that you believe was caused by NHS negligence, it may be worth asking yourself whether you’re willing and able to accept financial insecurity, and possible lifelong health complications, without support for the rest of your life, simply because the negligent party was the NHS. We understand that making the decision to take such action against the NHS is a difficult one, and we will do all we can to make this easy for you.

For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

Where does NHS compensation come from?

The NHS is funded by taxation, there’s no way to get around that. Money allocated by the government to the NHS goes into the making it operate, including the operating costs of the NHSLA and NHS Resolution. These are the bodies that deal directly with claims made against the NHS and are given a cut of the funding which allocated to the NHS each year.

However, healthcare professionals are also protected by indemnity insurance against medical negligence claims, as detailed in The Health Care and Associated Professions (Indemnity Arrangements) Order 2014. This protects them from losing their savings or home, as the insurance will pay for associated costs and damages if the claim is successful.

When faced with making a claim for NHS compensation, many people feel they shouldn’t, because it is seen as a British institution, and in recent years has struggled due to underfunding. However, if you face hardship or ongoing difficulties due to an injury it may be worth considering taking those steps. The size of the NHS as an institution may also be something to consider; whether your claim, to support yourself and your family from financial insecurity will make much of a material difference to them given the scale of their funding which they set aside for claims like yours.

We understand how difficult it can be to make the decision to move forward with a claim, but no one should have to suffer the aftermath of clinical negligence because the NHS has failed them personally.

What can you sue the NHS for?

The NHS touches the lives of nearly every single person living in Britain, and is trusted explicitly by everyone accessing its care, whether we interact with a GP, dentist, hospital staff or community nurse. While the vast majority of our interactions are, if not successful and positive, are at least adequate, there are a very small minority of people who experience problems such as delayed diagnosis, misdiagnosis or injury. If you have encountered negligence in the course of your treatment, with whichever service, we can help you pursue an NHS claim.

Within our free initial telephone consultation we can discuss your individual situation and then advise you if pursuing an NHS claim is going to be successful. These phone calls can take up to an hour or more depending on the complexity of your case, after which, if we feel there is cause for a claim against the NHS, we may ask your permission to request your medical files. Your case will reviewed by our experienced NHS claims solicitors and we will always keep you up-to-date with the progress of any claim, and will ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible.

When should I make an NHS claim?

At the point in which you discover that you or a loved one have suffered negligence because of the NHS, you should report it and begin to seriously consider getting in touch with a solicitor. The reason in which we advise this is because there is a claims time limit of 3 years from when you discover your injury, or evidence of it. This is known as the ‘date of knowledge’ and is defined in the Limitation Act as the date when you found out or ought to have known:

  • That the injury in question was significant.
  • That the injury was at least partially attributable to the accident or negligent treatment which is the subject of the compensation claim.
  • The identity of the defendant.

We understand that it can be extremely difficult to begin making an NHS claim, as you and your family and friends are going through such a stressful and traumatic time. Talking to solicitors is probably the last thing on your mind, but in order to ensure you can pursue your case, you’ll need to start as soon as you are able. Starting quickly means your medical files and investigations are going to be easier to retrieve and the events will be fresh in your mind, all of which may help resolve your claim more quickly.

There are exceptions to this rule in the case of claims involving children and accidents involving fatalities.

Child claims

The law states that in the event that someone under the age of 18 suffers as a result of medical negligence or clinical malpractice, they have three years from the date of their 18th birthday to pursue a claim. In many cases a parent will pursue a claim on their child’s behalf before they reach this age, but this does not affect the start of the limitation period.

Fatal medical accidents

In the event that you lose a loved one due to medical negligence, the law provides an exemption. In these cases, the date of limitation will run from the date of death, rather than when the accident occurred, even if there is a long time period between the negligence and their passing.

Can I sue the NHS after 3 years?

The Limitation Act 1980 sets the time limit for claims at 3 years. The 3 years begins from your ‘date of knowledge’, which is the date where you first found out about the negligence by the NHS staff that led to your injury, was the date you found out you had a delayed diagnosis or you found out you had been misdiagnosed previously. This applies to all medical negligence cases, including NHS claims.

If you do not claim with the set time period, your claim will be considered ‘statute barred’ or ‘out of time’ and will unfortunately not be taken further. There are two exceptions to this rule, in the case of children and if the negligence directly led to a fatality. In these cases, the date of knowledge is considered to be from the date of the child’s 18th birthday, and in the case of fatalities, from the date of death.

If you are unsure of the date of knowledge for your case, or are unsure how the Limitation Act applies to you, we can work with you to find out if you have a claim for NHS compensation and if you can pursue it. The process starts with a free telephone consultation with one of our advisers at whatever time is best for you.

For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

Where do I report NHS malpractice?

If you are considering pursuing a claim against the NHS, then you’ll have probably already made a complaint or reported malpractice. For many people pursuing a claim is not only about being compensated but also making the NHS aware of problems, possibly changing procedure or getting an apology. However, you must be aware that when you pursue a claim or make a complaint, an apology or change in procedure is not something that can be guaranteed. It is possible your actions will help towards improvements but you must be prepared for nothing to come of it.

When you make a complaint, file a claim or report malpractice you bring it to the authority ultimately responsible for overseeing your care or treatment. This could be a GP practice, a dental practice, an NHS trust or the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) that looks after a number of trusts. Because of the size of the NHS and its structure, until you begin the complaints or claims process, you may not know who you will be dealing with. This can be intimidating, but we will keep you informed as we move through the process.

As with claims, complaints have a time limit set on them and the NHS recommends filing any complaints within 12 months of the incident, and you will have it acknowledged within 3 working days. This does not mean you will have a response to your complaint quickly, but the NHS aims to respond within 6 months.

Making a complaint can also help with your claim for compensation, as this often means the NHSLA or NHS Resolution will have a record of it and are aware of your case, potentially moving you through the process of claiming a little quicker. The 12 month time limit for complaints does not apply to making an NHS compensation claim, the limit on this is 3 years, so do not be put off seeking help if you’ve faced medical negligence of any sort within the NHS.

How long do NHS claims take?

When it comes to compensation timescales, every case is unique which makes it impossible to give a definitive answer. Factors such as the severity of your illness or injury, the impact it’s had on your life and how difficult it is to prove the NHS provided substandard care all have to be factored in.

If there are clear signs of NHS negligence in your treatment or care, and the results of that negligence are indisputable, the case can be settled relatively quickly, and sometimes a settlement maybe offered within a few months. If the case is more complicated and fault is denied by the medical professional in question, expert opinions maybe needed, taking years before a settlement as your case will almost certainly go to trial.

NHS medical negligence cases are complex, and we are unable to give you a set time frame for completion of your case during your initial phone consultation, but we will do our best to provide some approximate timeframes based on the information you provided. However, these timeframes may change depending upon what evidence is needed as your case progresses. We will do our utmost to keep you informed of development in your case and what this means for you.

How much do malpractice cases cost the NHS?

In 2016, the budget to cover past and future NHS compensation claims went from £26 billion to £65 billion. This is in part due to the low interest rate and changes to the Personal Injury Discount Rate, but the majority will be used by the NHSLA and NHS Resolution to deal with complaints and claims brought before them. 

The cost of compensation paid out in 2016 alone was £1.7 billion, up from £1.4 billion the previous year. While there is an increase in cost, the number of cases has gone down; showing that severity of injury and the financial hardship as a result is increasing.

How much compensation will I get from my NHS claim?

The amount of compensation you receive is completely unique to the negligence caused by the NHS and the impact it has had on your life. Factors such as severity of illness or injury, the effects to your ability to work, the impact on your mental health and whether or not you may need lifelong assistance or care, all have an impact on the amount of compensation awarded.

If you decided to take your claim forward after your initial phone call with us, we will calculate the value of you claim based on the above factors. Once your claim has been valued, we then need to prove your losses to the court in order for it to be successful. This is easily quantifiable in some cases, with financial documents and payslips, but can be more difficult with some medical parts of your claim, such as levels of pain experienced. This is why we ask your permission to request your medical files and why we may use trusted medical professionals to provide evidence on your illness or injury.

What is the NHS LA?

The NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) is the part of the NHS that deals with claims and indemnity for its staff. It has, as of 3rd April 2017, become NHS Resolution, but still remains a legal entity.

The NHSLA’s aims are to protect the NHS from claims or to settle them using the resources given to them. Their aims also include the improvement of services using the information presented to them in the form of complaints and claims, making the NHS safer to ensure medical negligence can be avoided in future.