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Legal Advice Against The NHS Guide – What Do I Need To Know To Make A Claim?

Legal Advice For Claimants Against The NHS

The NHS provides an invaluable service of healthcare to patients across the UK and in most circumstances NHS patients receive the standard of care expected. Occasionally however a patient may receive a lower than expected standard of care causing them harm. When this happens, the patient or patient’s loved ones may feel it necessary to take legal action against the NHS for medical malpractice and claim for compensation.

Legal advice against the NHS guideMaking a claim for NHS negligence can be a complex and lengthy process and getting legal advice for medical negligence is essential in order to have the best chance of the claim being successful. An experienced medical negligence solicitor will be able to make sure that all the required information and evidence is collected and also that the claim is conducted in accordance with any specific legal requirements. They will also make sure that everything that can be included in the claim will be in an effort to secure the highest amount of compensation possible.

Legal Expert has a team of personal injury solicitors who can give you expert legal advice on making your compensation claim against the NHS, just contact us on 0800 073 8804 and we can advise you on the best course of action.

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A Guide On Legal Advice For Claims Against The NHS

This guide has been produced to enable potential claimants to have an insight into what is required when making a compensation claim against the NHS and contains lots of helpful information, advice, and guidance regarding medical negligence claims. Included is information such as why seeking legal advice can be essential before making a claim, what the process of taking legal action against the NHS involves, how you can prove that the NHS has acted negligently resulting in your injury or illness. The guide also looks at and answers some frequently asked questions from potential claimants, as well as discussing what damages should be included in the claim, how much compensation you might receive if successful, and how to start your claim.

Once you have read through the guide, if you have any further questions or would like to speak to a personal injury solicitor, contact Legal Expert.

When Could You Need Legal Advice Against The NHS?

Although the majority of people receiving medical care under the NHS do so without any problems, occasionally things go wrong and the patient is harmed as a result. Medical professionals such as doctors, nurses and dentists, have a duty of care to their patients to provide a good level of medical care with the patient’s health and well-being at the forefront of any medical advice, appointments, and treatments of any kind. When they fail in their duty of care and the patient suffers as a result, the patient, or their representative, may need to seek legal advice in order to file a claim for clinical negligence. Circumstances in which people may need legal advice with regards to claims against the NHS can include:

  • Incorrect or poor medical advice
  • Sustaining an injury or becoming ill whilst in hospital
  • Having an injury or illness misdiagnosed
  • Injuries occurring during pregnancy or birth
  • Having a diagnosis delayed
  • Surgical errors
  • Errors with prescribed medication
  • Wrong treatment errors
  • Death due to negligent errors

If any of the above causes the patient’s health to suffer furthermore or results in an injury or illness, then they may want to speak to a legal professional for advice on making a claim against the NHS. If someone doesn’t have the ability to speak to a medical negligence solicitor, or if someone has died as a result of medical negligence, then their next of kin can seek legal advice on their behalf.

People who work for the NHS may also need to seek legal advice if they believe they have been injured or become ill due to NHS negligence. Examples of this might include:

  • Becoming infected with an illness due to lack of health and safety protocol or personal protective equipment
  • Tripping or slipping over whilst at work in an accident that wasn’t their fault
  • Suffering food poisoning after eating in a hospital café or canteen
  • Suffering from stress due to unmanageable workload or having to work too long hours without a break.

How Do I Take Legal Action Against The NHS?

If you or a loved one has been harmed by the NHS, there are a number of steps to consider when taking legal action against the NHS. When something goes wrong involving the treatment of a patient, in most circumstances filing a complaint through the NHS complaints procedure is enough to sort out the issue, however, occasionally in some cases taking legal action is also required to get compensation for damages.

Taking legal action doesn’t have to wait and can be started whilst also going through the NHS complaints procedure. In fact, it isn’t always necessary to go through the complaints procedure before taking legal action although it can be helpful to do so. Taking legal action should not stop, delay or prevent the NHS from investigating your complaint in most circumstances, although occasionally a judge may decide that a complaint investigation could possibly interfere with your legal case and so stops it, but this only happens in exceptional circumstances. If this occurs, it’s best to seek independent legal advice.

When taking legal action and making a personal injury claim against the NHS, personal injury claims time limits apply which is generally 3 years from the date of the incidence of negligence or from the date you first realised you had been injured as a result of negligence. However, if the patient hasn’t the mental capacity to start legal action, the 3-year limit will start from the date that they are able. Also, for children under 18, unless an adult has proceeded with a claim on their behalf, they have 3 years from the date of their 18th birthday to initiate legal action. It is best to get expert advice as soon as possible due to the complexity of clinical negligence cases.

The NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA), now known as NHS Resolution, deal with the majority of legal cases against the NHS. There are also NHS Compensation Schemes that provide compensation for certain injuries or illnesses. There is more about these later in the guide.

Taking legal action against the NHS can be a long, expensive and stressful time and you may be required to go over what has happened to you numerous times and so can be quite upsetting. Filing a medical negligence claim is purely to secure compensation for your pain and suffering and will not result in an apology, any disciplinary actions or change how the future medical care is given in future. Before going ahead with legal action you must be prepared for what it involves, and speaking to an experienced legal team such as Legal Expert is advised so that you fully understand what is involved and have some legal support to help you through the process if you wish to go ahead.

What Role Does The NHS Resolution Play?

NHS Resolution is the body that represents the NHS when legal action is taken against them. The majority of claims handled by them are settled out of court with less than 2% going to court. Some cases are dropped by the claimants themselves. All of the claims made against the NHS are held in a database held by NHS Resolution and these also include any potential future claims or incidents where legal action has not yet been started but the patient has stated that they intend to make a claim.

Compensation Schemes For Specific Conditions

Depending on your injury or illness caused by medical negligence, you may be able to claim compensation without going to court if your injury or illness is covered by one of the compensation schemes. More information for this can be found on the Citizens Advice website here.

How Do I Prove That The NHS Has Been negligent?

As with any claim for compensation, when making a claim against the NHS, you need to be able to prove that their negligence has resulted in your injury or illness. Some examples of where the NHS will have acted negligently includes:

  • They failed to take action when needed
  • They acted wrongly or inappropriately
  • Failure to diagnose an injury or illness
  • Making a misdiagnosis
  • Made a mistake whilst performing a medical procedure
  • Failed to warn you sufficiently about any risks of certain treatment before going ahead
  • They made an unlawful decision
  • They acted in breach of the patient’s human rights such as having theirs and their families privacy respected, or prevented from having the freedom of conscience, thought and religion
  • You are discriminated against due to age, sex, race or religious beliefs for example
  • You are treated in a way that causes you to feel intimidated, offended or distressed
  • Your injury or illness was caused by faulty equipment being used
  • Your injury or illness was caused by unclean equipment being used
  • Your injury or illness was caused by incorrect medication being given, or incorrect dosage or timing of medication given.

For the NHS to be found guilty of negligence resulting in injury, it must be proven first that their negligence did indeed result in the injury or illness in question.

Collecting as much evidence as possible that shows the NHS acted negligently is vital, evidence could include:

  • Witness statements – If there are any witnesses to the way in which you have been treated or to what went wrong with your treatment, you should try to collect their contact details, witness statements are a valuable piece of evidence
  • Ask for a copy of your medical record
  • Keep a diary of events
  • Take any photos of your injury that could support your claim

What Code Of Practice Does The NHS Have To Follow?

The NHS is expected to work to a code of conduct in order to protect the patients using the NHS. A main aspect of the code of conduct, or practice, revolves around patient confidentiality, patients consent, human rights, common law and the disclosure of patient information and when it may be necessary. The NHS Code Of Practice can be found here in detail.

What Is The Average Payout For Medical Negligence In The UK?

When seeking legal advice and representation for making an NHS medical negligence claim, we are often asked what the average payout of compensation is. However, we must stress that all cases are unique due to the different components that make up the final settlement amount and so there cannot be an average as no cases are ever the same. However, using our personal injury claims calculator, we can show in the table below some of the payment amounts awarded for certain injuries depending on their type and severity:

Reason For Compensation Compensation Amount Comments
Mental Anguish £500 – £4,380 Fear of reduction in expectation of life and fear of impending death
Injuries to eyesight – Very severe £229,260 – £252,180 Total blindness in both eyes
Injuries to eyesight – Severe £60,010 – £90,100 Total loss of sight in one eye, reduced vision in other eye with possibility of further damage to vision remaining, and / or experiencing double vision
Injuries to eyesight – Moderate £8,550- £51,460 The upper end of the payment bracket for similar to above, the lower end for minor but permanent impairment of vision in one or both eyes
Injuries to eyesight – Minor £3,710 – £8,200 Pain and temporary impairment of vision. Amount awarded will depend on severity and length of suffering.
Injuries to Bowel- Severe £41,850 – £65,440 Severe abdominal injury often resulting in temporary colostomy bag usage and restriction on diet and employment
Injuries to Bowel – Moderate £11,820 – £22,970 Penetrative injuries with some permanent damage but eventual return to natural function possible
Very Severe Scarring £27,940 – £91,350 Amount awarded will depend on age of claimant, where scarring is, severity, impact on mental health
Less Severe Scarring £16,860 – 45,440 Where disfiguring is still significant and psychological effect still substantial
Significant Scarring £8,550 – £28,240 Worst effects of scarring can be reduced by plastic surgery, but some disfigurement and psychological effect remains.
Trivial – Less Significant Scarring £1,600 – £12,900 From very minor scarring to slight or small scarring that can be camouflaged using special cream or make-up
Minor Injuries £100 – £650 Where full recovery is expected within 7 days
Minor Injuries £650 – £1,290 Where full recovery is expected within 28 days
Minor Injuries £1,290 – £2,300 Where full recovery is expected within 3 months

If you have any questions regarding your potential claim award, please contact Legal Expert for further help and advice.

Special Damages You Could Claim Against The NHS

As briefly mentioned previously, there are a number of items that will make up the final settlement account, these include:

  • General Damages – There are for the actual injury and its effects. The type of injury, severity, duration, well-being and lifestyle effects, and potential long term effects will be considered before an amount is decided. Typically, the worse an injury is, the higher the compensation award.
  • Medical Expenses – If you have incurred any costs for medical treatment or medication because of the injury, these will be considered in the final value.
  • Travel Expenses – As with medical expenses, any travel expenses that you have incurred because of the injury will be included.
  • Loss of Income – If you have lost income, or will lose future income as a direct result of being injured through NHs negligence, these amounts of income will be considered when the final compensation award is decided.
  • Care Claim – Any extra expenses due to needing help with care whilst you recover from your ordeal will be included.

No Win No Fee Legal Advice Against The NHS

Legal help for medical negligence claims can be expensive if you wish them to make the claim on your behalf. Making a claim can be a lengthy process and having the funds available to pay legal fees throughout is a must, but with no guarantee of a successful outcome, paying for legal representation isn’t always an option. However, there is a way in which you can have legal help that is financially more viable, that is by having a no win no fee personal injury solicitor.

A no win no fee solicitor offers a conditional fee agreement whereby their legal fees are only paid by the claimant if they successfully secure them compensation, and this is paid as a small percentage of the overall compensation amount awarded. If they are unsuccessful with the claim, they do not charge the claimant any of their fees. With a conditional fee agreement, or no win no fee agreement, the claimant isn’t taking a gamble with their current finances.

NHS Claims FAQ’S

When we at Legal Expert, are approached by people wanting to make a claim against the NHS, there are a number of frequently asked questions that we come across. We have included the subjects they tend to include here with the answers for your convenience:

  • Time Limits To Make A Claim Against The NHS:

You have 3 years from the date of the incident or from when you first notice that you have sustained an injury through NHS negligence. For people who may be unable to initiate a claim at the time, such as patients that are unconscious or mentally unable for example, they have 3 years to start their claim from the date they are deemed capable. For children, they have 3 years from their 18th birthday unless a parent or guardian has already made a claim on their behalf.

  • Appealing To A Judicial Review:

A judicial review may be needed if you have to urgently challenge a medical decision. Judicial reviews can be used in the following circumstances:

  • A public authority figure has made an unlawful decision
  • A public authority figure acted or failed to act, in a certain way
  • How Are My Rights Affected?

Your human rights remain the same as in the Human Rights Act 1998, for example, you have the right to expect privacy for you and your family, you also have the right for freedom of religion, thought and conscience.

  • Could I Claim For Discrimination Of Services?

Yes. It is against the law to discriminate against race, sex, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or age. If you have received less than the expected standard of care, been made to feel intimidated or distressed, or refused a healthcare service and you believe it to be down to discrimination of some kind towards you, you may be able to claim.

  • Could I Claim If The Harm Was Caused By Faulty Products Or Equipment?

Yes, you may be able to claim under the Consumer Protection Act 1987. If you were injured due to a faulty product or equipment, then your claim would most likely be against the company or manufacturer of the product rather than against the medical professional or hospital who treated you.

  • NHS Work Accident Or Injury Claims:

If you have been injured due to negligence whilst working for the NHS, you may be eligible to make a claim providing you can prove that they were at fault and you were not to blame.

Making a claim against the NHS is a complex process and hiring a legal team to manage your case for you is advised in order to have the best chance in successfully securing the compensation you deserve. At Legal Expert, we have a panel of experts and experienced personal injury claims solicitors that have dealt with many medical negligence claims over the years and all offer a no win no fee policy. We work quickly and efficiently making sure to cover every aspect of the claim and ensure all that can be claimed for is included with the intention of securing our client’s the maximum amount of compensation possible. We will keep you informed of the progress of your claim every step of the way allowing you to concentrate on your recovery. We are an honest and reliable legal team with a high success rate with great client satisfaction feedback.

Start Your Claim

If you would like Legal Expert to conduct your claim on your behalf, just contact them on 0800 073 8804. They will offer you a free consultancy session to discuss the details of your claim, allowing you to ask any more questions you may have, and allowing us to gather all of the necessary information needed to make an informed decision as to whether you have a legitimate claim. Providing you have a valid reason to claim, we will most likely offer to conduct your claim for you on a no win no fee basis. With your agreement, we can then set to work on building you a strong case to get you the compensation you deserve.

Essential References

Delayed treatment negligence claims – If you have suffered further due to a treatment being delayed on the NHS because of negligence this guide explains how to make a claim.

NHS accident at work claims – This guide will be useful for NHS workers injured in an accident at work through negligence.

Doctor prescribed the wrong dosage of medication – You can refer to this guide if your Doctor/GP prescribed you the wrong dosage of medication.

Resolution.nhs.uk – Advice for those who are looking to make a compensation claim against the NHS.

CitizensAdvice.org.uk – Advice on how you can protect your human rights when you’re using health and care services.

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    Meet The Team

    • Patrick Mallon

      Patrick is a Grade A solicitor having qualified in 2005. He's an an expert in accident at work and public liability claims and is currently our head of the EL/PL department. Get in touch today for free to see how we can help you.

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