How to Sue the NHS – UK Litigation Law

How to Sue NHS for Medical Negligence

In the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) is recognised for its devotion to providing high-quality healthcare. While most NHS interactions are positive and life-saving, there are occasions when things go wrong, and patients may suffer as a result. Understanding how to address such situations, particularly how to sue the NHS for negligence, is essential for those affected.

This guide explores the process of making a negligence claim against the NHS, providing clear and actionable information. It will cover what medical negligence means, the grounds for making a claim, and the detailed steps involved in the legal process. Let’s begin!

What is Medical Negligence?

Medical negligence, also known as clinical negligence, happens when healthcare professionals fail to provide the standard of care expected for their field, leading to the suffering of the patient. This includes mistakes in diagnosis, treatment, and overall health management. To sue the NHS for this, you must show two things. First, the care was worse than expected. Second, this poor care caused harm.

This idea comes from ‘duty of care’. It’s a legal must-do for healthcare workers towards their patients. In the NHS, if a healthcare worker fails in this duty and a patient gets hurt, or their health worsens, it could lead to a medical negligence claim.

Getting what medical negligence means is step one in seeing if you’ve got a case against the NHS. 

Grounds for Suing NHS for Medical Negligence

Why would someone consider suing the NHS for medical negligence? The key reason is avoidable suffering. If the NHS failed in their duty of care and this directly led to harm or worsened health, they might be liable. 

It’s crucial to initiate your claim within three years of the incident or from when you first realised the harm caused. Delaying beyond this timeframe could make you ineligible for compensation.

Misdiagnosis

A major ground for suing the NHS involves misdiagnosis or completely missed diagnoses. If NHS’s errors in diagnosis led to your suffering, you could be entitled to compensation. Common issues in this category include getting an inaccurate or no diagnosis at all. If you suspect a misdiagnosis, seeking further medical opinions is important.

Pregnancy and Birth Injuries

If you or your baby suffered during pregnancy or birth due to NHS carelessness, you can make a clinical negligence claim. Common negligence cases in maternity include improper NICU care or mismanaged emergencies. These can result in serious injuries.

Never Events

Never Events are severe, preventable incidents with existing NHS guidelines. They include wrong-site surgery, foreign objects left after surgery, or incorrect medication administration. These are serious and demand a thorough investigation.

How to Sue NHS for Medical Negligence

Suing the NHS for medical negligence involves a structured process, but it doesn’t have to be overly complex. Here’s a straightforward guide for making a medical negligence claim.

Step 1: Identifying Negligence

First, determine if your experience meets the criteria of medical negligence. This means the care provided was below the expected standard, directly causing harm or injury. It’s not just about a negative outcome; the key is proving a breach in the ‘duty of care’.

Step 2: Gathering Evidence

Collect all relevant medical records and documents. Evidence is crucial. You need clear documentation of your treatment, the plausible negligence, and its consequences on your health. It’s detailed work but essential.

Step 3: Legal Advice

Seek a specialist medical negligence solicitor. They offer expertise in these cases and can provide invaluable guidance.  This step is vital – a good solicitor can make all the difference.

Step 4: The Letter of Claim

Your lawyer will prepare and send a Letter of Claim. It outlines the allegations against the NHS. This letter is a formal start to your claim.

Step 5: NHS Response

The NHS has a set period to respond. They’ll either accept liability or challenge the claim. Their response shapes the next steps.

Step 6: Resolution or Litigation

If the NHS admits liability, compensation can be negotiated. If not, the case may be moved to court. Litigation and court proceedings against the NHS can be complicated, but if you work with a dedicated team of litigation lawyers will help you through it.

Step 7: Compensation and Closure

Finally, if successful, you’ll receive compensation. This aims to cover damages, suffering, and any financial losses due to negligence.

This process can be lengthy and emotional. But, with the proper legal guidance and a strong case, it’s a path to justice and compensation. Remember, acting quickly is key due to the three-year time limit on claims.

What Proof Do I Need To Sue The NHS?

Gathering the right evidence is critical for a successful NHS negligence claim. Without it, proving liability can be challenging. Here’s a quick guide on what you need.

Medical Records

Start with your medical notes or letters from doctors or hospitals. These documents are key. They may outline the care received and, sometimes, even acknowledge errors. If you have letters explaining mistakes and the NHS’s plans to rectify them, they will be highly beneficial. However, even regular treatment notes are valuable.

Witness Accounts

Did anyone accompany you to appointments? Family or friends can back your claim. Their observations and recollections might confirm your story. Providing your lawyers with their contact details is a smart move.

Independent Medical Evidence

If you’re going ahead with a claim, your solicitor will likely seek expert medical opinions. These independent assessments from medical professionals add weight to your case. Don’t worry about the cost; your lawyer usually covers this.

Bring all the evidence you have to your solicitor at the start. It gives them a full picture and lets them advise you better. They’ll let you know if more evidence is needed.

How Long Does the Claim Process Require?

Understanding the timeframe for a medical negligence claim against the NHS is important, as these cases vary in duration. Generally, there’s a 3-year limit to make a claim from the date of the incident or from when the issue was first identified. For children, especially in birth injury cases, claims can be made anytime before their 18th birthday, with their own 3-year limitation period starting afterwards.

The duration of settling a claim can be extensive, with the complexity of each case influencing the length of the process. In more straightforward situations, an NHS trust might quickly make a settlement offer, potentially bypassing a court trial. However, this isn’t a guarantee. 

Based on their expertise with comparable cases, your lawyer should be able to provide you with an approximate timeline at the beginning of your case. Overall, be prepared for the possibility of a lengthy process, with the specifics of your situation ultimately determining the overall timeline.

How Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors Can Assist You in Suing the NHS

At Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors, we understand the complexity and sensitivity of suing the NHS for medical negligence. Our team of competent lawyers will walk you through each step, ensuring that your case is dealt with with the utmost attention and expertise. We provide personalised advice tailored to the specifics of your situation and are committed to helping you secure the justice and compensation you deserve.

With Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors, you’re not just getting legal representation; you’re gaining a partner who will stand by your side, advocate for your rights, and work tirelessly to achieve the best possible resolution for your case. Contact us today to discuss your situation and learn how we can assist you in your claim against the NHS.

Also read: How to Deal with a Workers Compensation CLaim.

FAQs

If you believe you have been the sufferer of clinical negligence by the NHS, you can file a claim for compensation. It’s advised to seek legal advice from medical negligence solicitors specialising in handling NHS negligence claims.

The NHS, like any medical provider, owes a duty of care to its patients. This duty includes providing a reasonable standard of care and taking necessary precautions to avoid causing harm or injury to patients. If this duty is breached, and harm occurs as a result, the patient may have grounds for a negligence claim.

Yes, if you have suffered financial losses, including loss of earnings, as a result of clinical negligence by the NHS, you may be able to include these in your compensation claim. It’s crucial to preserve records and proof of any financial impact caused by negligence.

If a loved one died as a consequence of NHS negligence, you may be able to make a compensation claim. This procedure can be complicated and emotionally taxing, so pursuing legal guidance and support from medical negligence solicitors is highly suggested.

Yes, there are time limits in the UK for bringing a claim for clinical negligence. It’s crucial to seek legal advice as soon as possible to ensure you file your claim within the required time frame. Typically, the time restriction begins on the day of the negligent conduct or the date the damage was discovered.

Ask our Expert Legal Team

At Gulbenkian Andonian, we pride ourselves on “Excellence, Experience and Efficiency”. With over 35 years of experience on your side, our team of London based lawyers and solicitors have a wealth of experience advising individuals, families and businesses of all sizes to find clarity on UK law.

Call us on +44 (0) 207 269 9590 or fill out the form below. We usually reply within a few hours.

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