Clinical negligence in health and social care is a very serious issue in the UK that needs to be taken as such. Health and social care is a term that describes services that are provided by health and social care providers in the UK.
What Is Clinical Negligence In Health And Social Care?
Clinical negligence also known as medical negligence or malpractice describes situations where a medical professional fails in his or her duty to give appropriate standard of medical care to a patient under his care which directly causes the individual to suffer harm, injury, trauma or a complicated medical condition.
Medical professionals are saddled with the responsibility to care for their patients and ensure that they get the best possible care according to global health standards. This is known as “Duty of Care”. Medical negligence cases arise when actions or inactions of medical professionals cause unnecessary pain, harm or suffering to the patient.
Clinical negligence comes in various forms such as surgical errors, wrong diagnosis, missed diagnosis, wrong prescriptions or even unnecessary delays in commencing treatment. In cases such as this, the individual, family or litigation friend can make a clinical negligence compensation claim.
Clinical Negligence Compensation Claims
Clinical negligence compensation claims refers to when a patient or family (known as the plaintiff) files a lawsuit or takes a legal action against his or her healthcare provider (known as a defendant) for their actions, inactions or some other negligent treatment which caused them to suffer harm, pain, a complicated medical condition or worse, led to the death of a loved one.
It has to be noted that clinical negligence claims can only be made if the patient has suffered harm, trauma or injury as a result of negligent treatment. Where there is no harm done, then claims cannot be made.
Causes of Clinical Negligence Claims
Acts of negligence have been the chief cause of clinical negligence. If there are no negligent actions, then there will be no case for negligence claims against doctors or any medical professional. Some examples of clinical negligence as we have noticed over the years are;
- Your Doctors failed to notice symptoms of your condition
- Your condition was misdiagnosed and so you didn’t receive the right treatment which had a very bad effect on you
- You were discharged too early without proper follow up which caused you harm.
- There was unnecessary delay in commencing the right treatment which caused you harm.
- Your doctor made a mistake during a procedure or surgery
- You were prescribed the wrong drugs or given an incorrect dosage which adversely affected you
- Your healthcare provider didn’t get your informed consent before commencing treatment
These reasons and more have caused individuals to make clinical negligence claims. There have been cases of death due to doctor’s negligence and for this the family of the bereaved can make negligence claims. Clinical negligence claims are not limited to only the NHS or their staff but can also be made against a private hospital or individual.
Who Can Claim Clinical Negligence?
Clinical negligence can be claimed by the individual affected, the family of the affected individual, the victim’s estate or next of kin.
When making a claim on behalf of another, you will be required to show proof of authority to stand as a litigation friend or show that you are the next of kin.
Are NHS Negligence Cases classified under clinical negligence?
The NHS is regarded worldwide as the best government-funded healthcare establishment with well-trained medical professionals tasked with providing quality healthcare delivery to millions of persons annually. Statistics have shown that over 1million patients are attended to every 36 hours with over 10million surgeries performed yearly across NHS service centres in the UK. With such a number of persons being attended to, Medical professionals will surely be stretched to the limits and may not give adequate attention to patients in order to meet targets.
The NHS Resolution (NHSR) formally known as the NHS Litigation Authority is a body in the Department of Health and Social Care who defend the NHS when clinical negligence claims are made against it. According to the NHS Resolution reports, 11,625 claims were closed in 2018/2019 while 10678 new cases were opened against the NHS. This means that an average of 29 clinical negligence cases were opened against the NHS every day. That number of claims increased to 11,682 the following year with the total compensation amount also rising from £1.778Billion to £2.3Billion.
Medical negligence cases have severely impacted on the yearly NHS budget. Currently, the NHS budget for the 2020/2021 year for the Department of Health and Social Care in the UK is £212.1 billion. This is a £61.7 billion increase from the previous year.
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Suing Social Services
If you have been abused or suffered harm as a result of negligent treatment by Social Services, then you can take legal action. Your medical negligence solicitors will assess your claims and assist you make claims.
In the UK, Social Services are saddled with the responsibility of promoting the welfare and safeguarding the wellbeing of vulnerable children. They also perform a range of activities that also benefit not just the children but the parents as well.
Social Services may be needed in the following instances;
- To help families determine any problems negatively affecting the children and proffer solutions as may be required
- Where a child has to be taken into care after a police emergency intervention or where there is a court order
- At the request of a parent that a child be temporarily placed there either due to emergency, a challenging behavior or a planned break
- Where there are concerns that the child might be involved in drugs or alcohol
- Where a child protection has been issue, for example, in cases of adult violence which may harm the child going forward
- Where a family has requested Social Services support at times of stress
Making Claims Against Social Services
There are several reasons why you may make claims against social services. The following actions can lead to making claims-
- Abuse of a resident by foster carers
- Negligence of social services
- Taking the children away without legal permission
- Failing to take care of the needs of the resident
- Abuse by a Social Worker
Abuse or other negligent treatment by social services or foster carers can lead to mental health problems for the child and in cases like this one can make medical negligence mental health claims against the Social Service.
If a loved one has seen his or her mental health deteriorate as a result of negligent treatment while in the NHs, you can also sue the NHS Mental Health Department and if successful you can obtain a mental health compensation payout.
Can I Sue Social Services For Distress?
Yes, you certainly can. If you have suffered distress emotionally, psychologically or otherwise as a result of abuse or negligent treatment while in social services, then all you need is the services of a specialist medical negligence solicitor to make a professional assessment of your case and help you make a claim.
What Do I Do If I Think I Have A Clinical Negligence Claim in Health & Social Care?
If you think you have been a victim of clinical negligence, then you should get professional legal advice on what to do to make claims.
You should see a solicitor who specializes in clinical negligence cases. In the UK, there are two recognized panels of specialist clinical negligence solicitors. One of the panels is administered by the charity Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) while the other is administered by the Law Society.
Both bodies have an accreditation scheme for clinical negligence solicitors with the aim of helping you to find good clinical negligence solicitors to help you with your claims. They publish the list of accredited clinical negligence solicitors on their website.
You can look on their website to find their list of solicitors who are accredited for clinical negligence. You can follow the link below to find out more about the scheme.
Generally, these two panels offer the following services;
- Make available to you, the details of accredited solicitors who deal with medical negligence
- Access your claim and give you legal advice about your situation
- Give you a range of what you might expect as settlement if your claim is successful
- Discuss with you about what fees you may have to pay if your claim is unsuccessful.
The contact details of AvMA are:
Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA)
Christopher Wren Yard
117 High Street
Helpline: 0845 123 23 52 (Monday to Friday from 10.00am to 3.30pm)
Website for The Law Society
Why Should I Make A Claim?
Making clinical negligence claims is more than just obtaining monetary compensation for your pain, trauma or suffering. It is more about obtaining justice for what you have suffered and ensuring that such scenarios don’t occur again. It is about health establishments including the NHS making appropriate investigations, changes and improvements to ensure that patients get the right standard of care and not suffer as a result of medical negligence.
In addition, it is only fair that you receive compensation for damages done to you, financial losses and other additional losses you may have incurred or will incur in future as a result of the negligent treatment you suffered.
How Hard Is It To Prove Clinical Negligence in Health & Social Care?
Cases of medical negligence can be tough and not easy to prove. It is estimated that medical professionals win 80-90% of weak cases and about 50% of borderline cases. Therefore, the onus lies on the plaintiff and counsel to provide strong evidence to show that the medical professional was negligent and that was solely the cause of the damage suffered.
When you meet your solicitor, they will need as much information as possible to help them make a proper assessment of your case to determine the chances of success. This is why it is advised that you begin to make your claims as early as possible when the facts of the case are still fresh and when it is easier to assess relevant documents that will be needed to make the case successful.
Because of the sensitive nature of clinical negligence cases, it is recommended that you meet an accredited specialist clinical negligence solicitor as they have the expertise to give you competent legal representation.
We have such solicitors in our team of legal experts and we understand what a difficult time you are having; we will ensure you get all the support you need throughout the claims process so that you can get a deserved compensation.
Clinical/ Medical Negligence Complaints Procedure
Before making a claim, you may wish to make a complaint as this may prove helpful to find out more about what happened. This will help you make a decision if you should go ahead with a claim or not. If all you need is an apology or an explanation as to why something went wrong, then you can make a formal complaint. Complaints should be made within 1year of the negligent treatment.
In the NHS, the NHS Patient Advice and Liaison Services (PALS) will give you a guideline on how to make claims. The letter should preferably be addressed to the Practice Manager. This is known as the local resolution stage. In a private establishment, you can address your complaint letter to the doctor involved or to his superiors.
If the issue is not resolved, then you can write to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) in the case of the NHS while for a private hospital, you write to the Independent Healthcare Sector Complaints Adjudication.
It should also be noted that if legal proceedings have begun for a claim, then neither the NHS, Ombudsman or any other body can investigate the matter.
Proving Clinical Negligence
To prove your clinical negligence claims in the UK, you will need to establish that the act of negligence occurred. The parts of medical negligence to be proven are;
- That there was an existing relationship between you and the medical professional and he owed you a duty of care
- That there was a breach of duty of care by the medical professional
- That breach of duty resulted in the pain, suffering or the complicated nature of your condition
- Additionally, that your current condition has caused further damages to your overall well being
What Documents Do I Need To Prove My Claims?
To sue for medical malpractice, The following documents will be required;
- Comprehensive statements with details of medical appointments dates, the GP or Doctor who attended to you, the nature of the negligence and every other relevant information
- Medical reports, test and scan results
- Witness statements from close friends or family
- Proof of your financial losses due to the negligent treatment suffered
- Medical Report from an Independent Medical Expert who will be assigned to you, to perform extensive medical examinations and ascertain the severity of harm.
The Clinical Negligence Claims Process
The process to sue a medical professional or health establishment for medical malpractice claim is briefed below;
1 – Contact A Specialist Medical Negligence Solicitor
2 – Choose a Funding option for Your Claim
3 – Gather Facts and Evidence to back up your claim
4 – Establishing Liability and Submit A “letter of claim”
5 – Negotiations and Settlement Payment
Medical Negligence Payouts UK
Compensation in medical negligence cases is not fixed but varies with each case. This is simply because the facts of a case are different from one another. No two medical negligence claims cases will have the same amount of settlement fee.
According to the NHSR, the average compensation amount in the UK is £50,000 but compensation amounts can fall anywhere between £1,000 and several millions of pounds. However, generally, the compensation you may receive is largely based on certain determinants which include:
- The severity of the injury
- Location of the injury
- Impact of the injury on general well being
- Financial losses
- Future prognosis
- Rehabilitation costs
- Costs for medical appointments etc.
Notwithstanding, our negligence claims Solicitors can give you a range of what you can expect as compensation payout using the medical negligence claims compensation calculator.
Time Limit For Making Clinical Negligence in Health & Social Care
According to the Limitation Act of 1980, the time limit for making clinical negligence claims is 3years from the date of negligent treatment or when you became aware of it.
In an unfortunate case that the victim of the negligent treatment dies, the 3-year time limit begins from the date of death.
In cases involving children, the three-year time limit only starts from the child’s 18th birthday till the 21st birthday. Therefore, a child may have until their 21st birthday to make a claim.
This three-year limitation period is also set aside when the victim is mentally incapable to make a claim.
For the above scenarios, a close family relation, parent or next of kin can make claims on behalf of the affected individual. Such a person is known as a litigation friend.
No Win No Fee Clinical Negligence in Health & Social Care
At Medical Negligence Direct, we undertake our medical negligence claims under Conditional fee Agreements also known as No Win No Fee. Under our No Win No Fee medical negligence policy, we will proceed to undertake your case at no financial implications to you. This means that you will not pay a penny to us before we commence and will also pay nothing even if the case is unsuccessful.
However, if the case is successful, 25% of your total compensation award value will be deducted as a success fee.
If you have any further queries concerning this, we are happy to help explain things better. Feel free to contact us today!