NHS negligence claims

Introduction

According to a recent report published by the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA), NHS England has seen an increase in costs associated with clinical negligence claims in recent years. Several factors have contributed to the rise, including the increase in both the number of patients treated and the number of reported incidents.

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The NHSLA received 11,497 new clinical negligence claims in 2014/15 and costs were £1.192bn - demonstrating the high number and cost of claims.

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NHS Litigation Authority

The NHSLA was founded in 1995 to defend any claims against the NHS. The NHSLA 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 the NHSLA 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, the NHSLA 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.

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The NHS Constitution

Anyone who is not happy with the care or treatment received, or who has been refused treatment, has 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 person making the complaint is not satisfied with the way the complaint has been dealt with then they have recourse to the independent Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

The constitution also states that a patient has a right to receive compensation if he or she has been harmed.

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Complaints against the NHS

Although it is not necessary to use the NHS Complaints Procedure before bringing a claim for clinical negligence, some Claimants may find it helpful in making an informed decision as to whether or not to proceed.

Obtaining specialist advice from a personal injury lawyer is also advised.

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Demonstrating clinical 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 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.

Compensation may only be claimed if it can be demonstrated that ‘on the balance of probability' the 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:

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.

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Taking 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. A Claimant 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.

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Do I have a NHS negligence claim?

If you were injured as the result of NHS negligence in the last three years (longer if children were involved), then we can help you make a compensation claim.

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No Win, No Fee NHS negligence compensation claims

No Win, No Fee agreements, also known as CFAs or "Conditional Fee Agreements", comprise the beginning of a claim for injury compensation.

The Conditional Fee Agreement defines the contract or "terms and conditions" between you and the lawyer.

The agreement details the work your solicitor will provide as well as the "success fee" to be taken from your award after they win the case.

By selecting a Quittance personal injury solicitor, you will be able to prioritise your recovery, knowing that there is nothing to pay up front.

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How much compensation can I claim for NHS negligence?

The amount of compensation you will receive depends on a number of factors. Our NHS negligence compensation calculator provides an accurate estimate of your likely compensation.

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Meet our team

The national panel of QLS solicitors handle all types of clinical negligence claims, from relatively minor claims to long-term injuries. Chosen on the basis of their winning track record, our lawyers have years of experience.

To meet more of our team, click here.

 
Kevin Walker Serious Injury Panel Solicitor
 
Carol Cook Clinical Negligence Panel Solicitor
 
Lee Raynor Clinical Negligence Panel Solicitor
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.

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