The NHS does a fantastic job of helping millions of patients through their health problems every year. However, there are occasions where mistakes happen and a patient suffers harm as a result. While most medical procedures come with a degree of risk, it is the duty of a medical professional to minimize the risk; when they fail in this regard and you end up suffering an injury or further health problems, you may be entitled to sue the NHS for malpractice.
Medical mistakes or omissions do not necessarily have to be done by a doctor or surgeon before an NHS claim can be made. Nurses, pharmacists, radiologists, dieticians, and even hospital porters can be held accountable for acts of negligence if they fail to conform to the acceptable standards.
What is Classed as Medical Negligence?
Medical negligence is medical care that falls below the acceptable standard in the NHS, which has directly caused avoidable injury, or made an existing condition worse. NHS negligence can cause its victim significant pain, stress and emotional trauma. You deserve proper care from the NHS; when this does not happen, you may be wondering what you can do to get back to your previous position.
Making a Complaint to the NHS
If you are not satisfied with any aspect of NHS care or service, you have the right to make a complaint. If you feel this way, it is important that you discuss your concerns as quickly as possible with the service provider, as the issue may be resolved immediately.
At the early stage, many issues can be resolved by speaking directly to the staff at the place you received the medical care. Although a letter of complaint will not directly lead to compensation for you, making a complaint via the NHS complaints procedure can help form part of your medical negligence NHS case if you plan to sue the NHS for malpractice.
It is expected that a complaint against the NHS be made within 12 months of the negligent treatment you received or of your becoming aware of the negligence. An extension to this time limit may be granted if your reasons for not making a complaint sooner is legitimate and a fair investigation into the matter is still possible.
A complaint can be made verbally, in writing or via email. If your complaint is made verbally, you will receive a written record of the complaint. If you are making a complaint on behalf of someone else, you must include their written consent when lodging the complaint. However, you will not need any consent if you are making a complaint on behalf of a deceased person and a person who lacks the capacity to make their own decisions.
How Do I Sue the NHS for Malpractice?
Suing the NHS can be a complex and stressful process, especially at a time that may already be very difficult. In order to successfully sue the NHS for malpractice, the first step is to contact NHS negligence solicitors who will put the wheels in motion on your behalf. Your solicitor will help you prove:
- Breach of duty
Your medical professional owes you a duty of care to make you feel better. When they fail to provide the expected level of care, this duty is breached. To determine if a breach of duty has occurred, your solicitor, with the support of independent medical experts, will determine whether the medical professional’s action is in accordance with a practice accepted as proper by a responsible body of medical men skilled in that particular art. This is known as the Bolam Principle Test.
The injury or health problem you have suffered must be directly linked to your medical professional’s failure to uphold their duty of care. In this case, your solicitor will need to prove that if things had been done correctly, there is a strong probability that you would not have suffered the injury.
For instance, GP negligence claims can be made against an NHS GP who fails to recommend and refer a patient for further tests, even though the patient manifests obvious symptoms that require specialist attention.
NHS Negligence Claims Compensation
Claims against NHS for medical negligence are handled by the NHS Resolution and, with about 98% of NHS claims settled out of court, it is unlikely that you will experience the stress of taking your case to trial.
If you feel you have received substandard medical care and wish to sue for medical malpractice, our NHS malpractice lawyers will advise you on the best step to take.
After considering the facts of your case, we will let you know whether a complaint should be made through the robust NHS complaints procedure before you make a claim.
After building a strong case on your behalf, we will present our findings to the NHS; they will then either accept liability – which means we can negotiate financial settlement for the claim – or deny liability – which means we will have to review the facts of your case and discuss the next best step. It is important that you are honest with our specialist NHS solicitors from the onset in order to avoid any surprises down the line.
How Long Does an NHS Negligence Claim Take?
Every medical negligence claim is unique, so it is impossible to determine how long a claim will take before it is resolved. However, most NHS claims are resolved within two to three years; keep in mind that more complex cases involving serious injuries may take years to settle.
How Much Compensation Can I Receive if I Sue the NHS for Malpractice?
As stated above, every claim is unique, so it is difficult to put an exact figure on the compensation amount to expect. Typically, the nature and severity of the injury determines how much compensation a claimant receives; for instance, you can expect a few thousand pounds in compensation if the negligent treatment you received resulted in a minor injury. In contract, medical malpractice cases resulting in serious life-changing injuries or even death can attract hundreds of thousands or even millions of pounds in compensation awards.
If you decide to sue the NHS for malpractice, an experienced solicitor can assess your claim and, with the aid of a medical negligence calculator, advise you on how much compensation you may receive.
Is it Wrong to Sue the NHS for Malpractice?
Some people feel suing the NHS is unethical, so they are uncomfortable about starting the process. After all, in the vast majority of cases, the NHS does a great job and is a highly respected institution in the UK. However, it is important to remember that you – and every other patient – is entitled to a high standard of medical care. When the NHS fails to provide this level of care, it is your legal right to sue for medical malpractice.
In fact, if, for instance, you report a doctor for medical malpractice and sue the NHS, it can flag areas of the NHS service that require improvement, ensuring the same mistake does not happen again. It is also important to note that the compensation award you receive is not a jackpot; instead, it is designed to restore the financial position you would have enjoyed if the medical negligence did not occur.
Is there a Time Limit for Suing the NHS?
Yes. There is a strict three-year time limit for making NHS negligence claims which begins from the date of the negligent incident or the date on which you became aware that your injury was due to medical negligence. However, if the patient lacks capacity to sue the NHS for malpractice on their own or is under the age of 18, this time limit may be more flexible.
If you believe you have a claim for NHS negligence – whether this is due to GP negligence, doctor negligence, hospital negligence, delays in medical treatment due to COVID-19 or any other type of negligent treatment – do not hesitate to contact us.
How Do I Fund My NHS Claim?
When you get in touch with us, our NHS solicitors will offer a free, no obligation consultation to discuss whether they think you have legitimate grounds to sue the NHS. If we believe in the strength of your case, we will likely offer a No Win No Fee agreement, also known as a Conditional Fee Agreement. Under this arrangement, you will not bear the financial risk associated with making a claim; if your claim is successful, a success fee will be deducted from your final compensation award. If it is not successful, you will not pay anything.
Get in touch with us
The process involved in suing the NHS does not have to be complicated. When you contact us, our specialist NHS solicitors will discuss with you to determine the facts of the case, conduct any necessary investigation, and build a strong case on your behalf if we believe you can sue the NHS for malpractice. Call us today on 0800 644 4240 or fill our free claims assessment form and one of our solicitors will speak with you at your earliest convenience.