If an NHS negligence injury has set you back, we'll help you move forward
The National Health Service (NHS) is a vital institution in the United Kingdom, providing care and support to millions of people every year. However, when things go wrong and patients are harmed as a result of NHS negligence, including surgical errors, misdiagnosis, and delayed treatment, the consequences can be devastating.
Making a claim is not about apportioning blame, but rather about obtaining justice and financial assistance to help with the costs of recovery and rehabilitation. The NHS is committed to learning from mistakes, and compensation claims can play an important role in this process.
The process of making an NHS negligence claim can be complex, and it is important to seek legal advice from a specialist solicitor. They will be able to guide you through the process, helping you to understand your rights and the compensation that you may be entitled to. With the help of a specialist solicitor, you can ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation that you are entitled to.
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by NHS negligence, we can help. If your injuries were caused by the negligence of a doctor, nurse, midwife or other medical professional, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
You can make a compensation claim with the help and support of a specialist clinical negligence solicitor.
In this article
You are not alone
According to a recent report published by NHS Resolution (formerly NHS Litigation Authority), NHS England has seen an increase in costs associated with medical negligence claims in recent years.
NHS Resolution received 12,629 new clinical negligence claims in 2020/21 and costs were £2.324bn.
If you have suffered harm as the result of the actions or negligence of an NHS doctor, nurse or other medical practitioner, you may be able to claim compensation from the NHS Trust.
Your right to complain about NHS negligence
If you are not happy with the care or treatment you received, or you have been refused treatment, you have the right to complain through the NHS Complaints Procedure.
Complaints must be dealt with efficiently and be properly investigated, and the complainant must be given a full and prompt reply about the outcome.
If you are not satisfied with the way the complaint has been handled, then you can escalate the matter to the independent Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
The NHS Constitution also states that you have a right to receive compensation if you have been harmed.
How do I make a formal complaint against the NHS?
Although it is not necessary to use the NHS Complaints Procedure before bringing a claim for clinical negligence, you may find the outcome of the Complaints Procedure helpful when you are deciding whether or not to proceed with a claim.
You should also consider getting specialist advice from a clinical negligence solicitor.
What is NHS Resolution?
NHS Resolution was founded as The NHS Litigation Authority in 1995 to defend any claims against the NHS. NHS Resolution has pledged to:
"ensure that claims made against the NHS are handled fairly and consistently, with due regard to the interests of both patients and the NHS."
Only 2% of cases dealt with by NHS Resolution reach court, with the Authority preferring, where possible, to settle cases via mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution. Reaching an out-of-court settlement saves both parties time and stress associated with taking formal legal action, and, crucially, reduces costs.
Wherever possible, NHS Resolution seeks to offer the option of an independent mediation service. This service is intended to give the parties involved to meet, if they wish, to discuss the matter, agree a settlement and for the negligent party to offer an apology or explanation to the claimant.
How do I prove NHS negligence?
Demonstrating that negligence has occurred can be complex as its definition may be regarded differently by various medical experts.
Traditionally negligence has been judged on the Bolam test (named after a clinical negligence case in 1957).
The Bolam test considers how other healthcare practitioners would have acted given the same circumstances. The courts have also recently developed more flexible assessments - allowing them to interpret negligence claims against other criteria such as NICE (National Institute of Health and Care Excellence) guidelines.
You can only claim compensation if it can be demonstrated that ‘on the balance of probability' your treatment was carried out negligently - meaning the care received fell below medically acceptable standards and this failing directly caused the injury.
Examples of clinical negligence claims include injuries due to a healthcare provider:
- Misdiagnosis claims
- Surgical procedure negligence claims
- Administering the wrong medication or wrong dose
- Failing to warn about the risks of treatment
- Failing to get a patient's informed consent to the treatment
Some injuries that occur through medical treatment may be referred to as ‘medical accidents' or ‘patient safety incidents'. Injury in such cases may or may not be due to the treatment being negligent, however, and will depend on the circumstances of the case.
If you decide to make a NHS negligence claim, your medical negligence solicitor will take you through every step of the claims process. Your solicitor will be with you until you win your claim and get the compensation you deserve.
How do I take legal action against an NHS Trust for clinical negligence?
Anyone injured as a result of negligent medical treatment may be able to take legal action for compensation. You may also be able to take legal action for compensation on someone else's behalf where:
- the injured person has died as a result of the negligent medical treatment
- the injured person does not have the capacity to take legal action for themselves
Many people are reluctant to launch a claim against the NHS. However, a patient who has sustained an injury caused by the negligence of someone working in the NHS has a right to be compensated for any losses incurred as a result.
Do I have an NHS negligence claim?
Medical negligence claims differ from personal injury claims. To make a successful NHS negligence claim your solicitor will need to establish:
- you received care that was below the professionally acceptable level, and
- as a result, you experienced harm.
Use our injury claim calculator to find out if you can claim. Alternatively, you can speak to a claims advisor on 0800 376 1001 and find out if you have a claim in minutes.
How long after an NHS negligence incident do I have to start a claim?
For a NHS negligence claim, you usually have 3 years to make a claim from the date you became aware of the negligent treatment (date of knowledge).
If you are under 18, a parent, guardian or adult 'litigation friend' can make a claim on your behalf. Once you turn 18, you have until your 21st birthday to start a clinical negligence claim.
Get an impartial opinion
To get impartial advice on whether you have a claim, speak to an injury claim expert on 0800 376 1001.
A brief phone consultation will tell you exactly where you stand. There is no obligation to start a claim.
How much compensation can I claim for NHS negligence?
The amount of money you could claim for your injury will depend on:
- the seriousness of your injury, and
- any financial losses or costs you have incurred.
At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your injuries have affected your life. Your solicitor will take these considerations into account to calculate the correct compensation award.
Get an accurate compensation estimate (including for multiple injuries), confirm your legal position, and check if you have a No Win, No Fee claim.
Updated December 2023
Compensation Calculator v3.04
General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).
Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.
Special damages is compensation for quantifiable financial losses you've incurred as a result of your injury. Compensation can include loss of earnings, and any additional expenses directly related to your injury.
These damages will also cover any medical or treatment bills, such as corrective treatment and psychological support.
How long do I have to start a claim?
If your injury is apparent immediately after medical treatment, you will have 3 years to start a claim.
It may be that the negligent procedure happened more than 3 years ago, but your injury was only diagnosed recently, within the last 3 years. If so, you may still be able to make a claim.
What if your injury was diagnosed months or years after treatment?
You may not be immediately aware of your injury. In some cases, months and even years can pass before symptoms appear.
The law allows you to make a medical negligence claim up to three years after the 'date of knowledge' (when you first learned of the injury).
It is recommended that you start a claim as soon as possible, as medical negligence cases can be complex. Starting your claim sooner will give your solicitor more time to gather medical evidence, assess the extent of your injury and to negotiate interim payments and your final compensation amount.
Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher
About the author
Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.