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Suing the NHS for Negligence Claims
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How to Sue the NHS
The NHS is one of the biggest healthcare systems in the world. It is also the oldest publicly funded healthcare system anywhere in the world, and a leading player that other countries seek to emulate. Every year, the NHS does a wonderful job of providing a high standard of medical care to millions of patients. Unfortunately, things can go wrong and these can be devastating to the affected patients and their families. In cases like these, you may consider suing the NHS.
If you have suffered an illness or injury as a result of medical negligence at the NHS, you might become worried about what the future holds. This guide is designed to help you understand your rights and the best steps to take if you are considering making an NHS claim.
NHS negligence is a term that describes substandard medical care you received from the NHS. Most medical procedures come with a degree of risk. However, your healthcare provider owes you a duty of care to ensure reasonable steps are taken to avoid these risks. If he/she fails to takes these steps and you are harmed, it may be considered medical negligence.
The treatment you received must not be provided by a doctor or surgeon for an NHS claim to be made. Errors by nurses, pharmacists, radiologists, lab technicians, and any healthcare provider at the NHS can lead to medical negligence claims if they do not uphold the acceptable standards.
Can I Claim Against the NHS For Negligence?
Yes. In fact, the NHS has an in-house legal department – called the NHS Resolution – setup to handle claims and disputes fairly.
In order to make a claim against the NHS for negligence, your case must meet the following criteria:
The healthcare provider acted in a way that is considered unacceptable for someone in the same profession and under similar circumstances. This is determined by considering whether the actions taken by the NHS personnel reached “the standard of a responsible body of medical opinion”.
The harm you suffered must be as a direct consequence of the failure of the NHS personnel to provide an acceptable standard of care. If it is determined that you would have still suffered injury even if they upheld their duty of care, this may reduce your chance of success.
How Do I Sue the NHS For Negligence?
If you have received substandard medical care at the NHS, there are a number of options you can explore. The first step is to speak directly to the management of the hospital. In some cases, victimized patients only want an apology and assurance that other patients will not experience the same substandard care they received in future.
It can be helpful to talk to a member of staff at the NHS who understands the complaints process so you can get some support. Most hospitals have a Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS), and speaking to a PALS member can be especially helpful when you need urgent action to be taken. Your medical negligence solicitor can also guide you through the complaints procedure.
Keep in mind, though, that you must not make an official complaint at the NHS before making a claim for NHS compensation. However, sending a letter of complaint to the NHS can help clarify circumstances surrounding the medical care you received and whether there was negligence. This information can also be useful to your solicitor, as it will help them decide whether suing the NHS for medical negligence will be in your best interest.
NHS Complaints Procedure in the 6 Easy Steps
The NHS Complaints Procedure that should be followed:
- Gather any relevant evidence or documents to support your NHS complaint. In our experience it is unlikely an NHS complaint will result in an award of compensation.
- Write down your version of events. Keep to the facts and what you’re unhappy about
- Raise your complaint with your NHS care provider in writing or verbally. You can also submit the complaint to the NHS commissioning body.
- Raise your complaint within 12 months of the incident or 12 months from the date you became aware of it.
- Wait for a response to your NHS complaint. Any response may help as evidence to support you NHS compensation claim.
- Review you response and speak to a medical negligence solicitor for advice on your next steps and find out if you can claim compensation.
NHS Complaints Claims Process
Making a Complaint
Usually, a complaint should be made within 12 months of the date of the negligence, or 12 months of the date you became aware of it. This time limit will be extended only if you can provide compelling reasons for not making a complaint earlier and if it would still be possible to ensure a fair investigation.
If you decide to make your complaint verbally, a record of your statement will be made and you will receive a written copy. If your complaint is made on behalf of someone else, it is important that you attach their written consent in your letter of complaint.
However, consent is not required if you are making a complaint on behalf of a non-Gillick competent child, a deceased person and one who lacks mental capacity to make independent decisions.
What is the Medical Negligence NHS Claims Process?
Proving medical negligence claims against the NHS can be difficult, so it is important that you seek expert legal advice to determine the strength of your case. So, if you are considering suing the NHS, the first step is to speak with specialist solicitors at Medical Negligence Direct.
One of our friendly solicitors will discuss details of your case with you. If they believe your claim has a strong chance of success, they will provide all the support you need throughout the claims process.
How Do I Prove Liability Against the NHS?
To prove NHS medical negligence claims, you must establish two things:
- Fault: that the medical professional failed to uphold their duty of care to you
- Avoidable harm: that this failure has directly caused you harm that was avoidable.
Your medical negligence solicitor will consult with independent medical experts to describe the severity of injury you have suffered as well as the prognosis of your recovery via a document known as a “condition and prognosis report”.
This report will be crucial in establishing liability and causation. Depending on the nature of the injury, the medical expert may recommend further treatment before giving a final prognosis. Upon completion of these investigations, your medical negligence solicitor will advise you about whether your claim has a strong chance of success.
NHS Compensation Claims Procedure in 6 Easy Steps
The NHS Compensation Claims Process is summarised below:
- Speak to an NHS compensation claims solicitor about your medical negligence claim and understand your right to compensation.
- Your Solicitor will obtain copies of your medical records and get the opinion of a medical expert
- Send a Letter or Claim to the NHS care provider setting out the basis for suing the NHS and why they breached their duty of care and caused injury or harm
- Wait 3 month maximum for a Letter or Response from the NHS care provider
- Review the position and decide if a settlement can be reached of or court proceedings may need to be issued
- Settle your NHS compensation claim
NHS Compensation Claims Process
How Much Does the NHS Payout in Compensation?
The amount of compensation award you receive will depend on a range of factors which revolve around the injury you suffered and the losses you incurred as a result. These factors include:
- The type of injury
- Location of injury
- Severity of injury
- Impact of injury on your lifestyle and ability to work
- Recovery timeframe
- Possible complications from injury
According to the National Health Service Litigation Authority, the average NHS payout is around £50,000. As every medical condition is unique, so are the medical negligence claims.
If the independent medical expert recommends further treatment, it is best to wait until the conclusion of this treatment before discussing a negligence settlement. This is because NHS medical negligence settlements are usually reached on a full and final basis. If your injury deteriorates more than expected in future, it would be impossible to ask for more money, so it is always better to negotiate only when you have all the medical records and facts.
How Long Do NHS Compensation Claims Take?
Medical negligence claims are usually very complex, and can be drawn-out. A simple, non-contested claim can take anywhere between 18 months to three years, but this can be longer, depending on the unique details of the case.
When the NHS admits negligence, the claim process can be resolved in less than a year. Your solicitor will ensure proper investigation is conducted so that every relevant evidence for your claim can be put together. Your solicitor will also obtain and assess your medical records and one or more medical experts will examine you. This process alone can last between six and twelve months.
Once the evidence of your case has been gathered, your claim will be sent to the medical professional or NHS Trust involved. It is likely that their legal representatives will want to gather their own medical records and evidence; this will definitely delay the claims process. While the negotiation for NHS compensation is ongoing, it may be possible to receive an advance payment on your compensation award to help you deal with any necessary lifestyle adaptations. Any amount you receive will be deducted from the final compensation award.
Will I Have to Go to Court?
It is unlikely that your case will go all the way to court, as about 98% of claims made against the NHS are resolved out of court. While your solicitor will strive to ensure an out-of-court settlement is negotiated, they will support you all the way if the NHS does not accept liability and you have legitimate grounds to make a claim. If your claim gets to the court, you can rest assured they will support and advise you to ensure the best outcome.
Suing the NHS with Medical Negligence Direct
Medical Negligence Direct has a strong track record of making successful medical negligence claims against the NHS. If you believe that you or your loved one has been subjected to medical negligence at the hands of the NHS and you are considering suing the NHS, get in touch with us on 0800 644 4240. You will be able to speak with one of our specialist solicitors who will offer you the guidance and support you need to secure the NHS compensation you deserve, and live a normal life.