NHS Negligence Claims
The NHS is highly regarded and respected as a proud and impressive national constitution. For the great majority of patients that receive wide and varied treatments, the NHS performs an excellent job. Unfortunately, as with all sectors, accidents, mistakes and oversights do occur within the NHS, and for legal terms, this can be referred to as ‘negligence’.
Unfortunately, when negligence occurs in an NHS setting, the effects can be significant and even fatal. Patients who suffer complications, worsened symptoms, new illnesses, emotional distress or lengthened suffering because of the negligence of an NHS worker are likely to be eligible to make a claim for compensation.
Am I eligible to make a claim?
The NHS is a system funded by the public through the payment of our taxes. Patients are able to make use of first-rate care and excellent levels of treatment in most instances, though occasionally negligence occurs. If you have suffered from an illness, injury, worsened symptoms or emotional distress because of NHS negligence, you may be eligible to make a claim for compensation.
If your solicitor is able to prove that the NHS did not observe their duty of care to you or that the treatment that you received was not up to the expected acceptable standards, you are likely to have a valid case.
What counts as NHS negligence?
There are many types of scenarios that may be considered as NHS negligence, each with varying levels of severity and each with different evidence requirements.
Some of the most common types of NHS negligence claims include:
- Errors during surgery
- Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose
- Illness caused by poor hygiene or safety observations
- Poor aftercare or postoperative treatment plans
- Emotional and psychological complaints caused by NHS errors and negligence
- Wrong medicine administration or lack of medicines being given
- Failure to prescribe pain relief when necessary resulting in heightened symptoms and emotional distress
- Not obtaining patient consent prior to procedures taking place
We recognise that patients may be reluctant to bring a claim against the NHS and that there may be feelings of guilt, trepidation and worry. Rest assured that the NHS is insured for such occurrences and it is widely acknowledged that patients should receive compensation for losses, injuries and illnesses caused by negligence. Solicitors will have worked on many medical negligence cases and are adept at providing a patient, warm and empathetic service to clients just like you.
How do I prove that the NHS was negligent?
Proving NHS negligence can be more complex than claims for standard personal injuries. This is because there is an element of interpretation to be considered, rather than a concrete division between negligence and unfortunate natural occurrence.
In order to prove NHS negligence, solicitors often refer to the ‘Bolam test’. This test came about following a 1957 clinical negligence case and provides guidelines which help to determine whether negligence occurred. Using the Bolam test, negligence can be judged on the basis of how other practitioners would likely react in similar circumstances to those presented in your case. Alternatively, your case might be judged based on the guidelines offered by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE).
A compensation claim will only be successful if your solicitor can demonstrate that the care and treatment that you received fell short of the standards that are considered reasonably acceptable.
Can I claim on behalf of a family member?
Unfortunately, some NHS negligence cases happen to people who are unable to conduct their own compensation claim, or at their worst, result in fatalities. In these incidences, it may be possible to make a claim on behalf of a family member, and you would be referred to as the ‘litigation friend’.
Other times that it is considered appropriate to claim on behalf of a family member include claims made on behalf of a child who has suffered from medical negligence. With children under the age of 18 at the time of the negligent treatment, a parent or guardian can make a claim on their behalf. All actions should be taken with the child’s best interests at heart and solicitors will strive to achieve the highest amount of compensation possible.
Should I make a formal complaint against the NHS before claiming?
Patients are not obliged to raise a formal complaint against the NHS prior to initiating a claim for compensation following negligence. However, many patients use the NHS Complaints Procedure to highlight their case and to ascertain the NHS’s response. In doing so, patients often feel that they are encouraged to pursue or abstain from a compensation claim.
It is advisable to discuss your case with a specialised solicitor as early as possible to ensure that you have a thorough understanding of your situation and potential outcomes. There is no obligation to pursue your claim once you have spoken to a solicitor. You will then know exactly where you stand and what your options are.
How much compensation will I be awarded?
The amount of compensation that is awarded to you greatly depends upon the particular details of your case. Your solicitor will seek to obtain the highest award amount possible and will provide you with an experienced estimate on a realistic outcome at your initial meeting. As a general rule, the more severe your symptoms and the greater the impact on your daily life and future living, the higher the compensation amount you will receive.
In order to secure the highest compensation sum possible, your solicitor will build the strongest case that they can. This is achieved through gathering as much evidence and detail as possible, and you can support this through providing your legal team with proof of your symptoms and treatment as well as thorough records of all medical procedures that you have had and finances losses sustained.