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Can you sue the NHS for medical negligence?

Wondering if you can sue the NHS for medical negligence? In this guide, the medical negligence lawyers at Graysons answer some of the most frequently asked questions about suing the NHS for medical negligence. If you believe you have suffered from NHS medical malpractice in the UK, then please read on.

Last updated on December 5th, 2022 at 02:22 pm

The short answer is, yes, you can sue the NHS for medical negligence, sometimes called clinical negligence. Ordinarily, the NHS in the UK does a fantastic job, providing outstanding healthcare. However, sometimes things do go wrong. Whether it be GP negligence, hospital malpractice, dental medical negligence, or malpractice in nursing, if the standard of care falls below an acceptable level and leads to personal injury, financial losses, reduced life expectancy, or even death, the chances are you have a claim and will be able to sue the NHS successfully. Clinical negligence can happen at any time during your care in the NHS, from your first point of contact with a medical professional to your last.


What is classed as medical negligence?

If you have received care that falls below an acceptable standard in the NHS and this care has directly led to avoidable injury, or caused an existing condition to get worse, then you have been a victim of medical negligence. Your first step should be to contact an experienced and professional medical solicitor, such as the team of experienced medical negligence attorneys at Graysons. They will be able to advise you if you do indeed have a claim for medical negligence and answer questions that you may have. Our team of medical negligence lawyers will then be able to expertly guide you through the process of suing the NHS, ensuring the most successful outcome possible.


What are some typical examples of medical negligence in the NHS?

Clinical negligence in the UK covers a broad spectrum of scenarios within the NHS. Some common medical malpractice and negligence claims include delayed diagnosis, misdiagnosis of cancer, surgical error, birth injuries to both the infant and mother, incorrect medication or treatment is given, referral errors, and hospital-acquired infections. Clinical negligence covers all healthcare settings, including dental, GP, doctor, and hospital malpractice.


How do I sue the NHS for clinical negligence?

When you sue the NHS for medical malpractice and negligence, it doesn’t have to be a complicated process. However, it can be stressful and emotionally draining, especially at what may already be a difficult time. The first step is to contact a medical solicitor, who will put the wheels in motion for your medical negligence claim. They will represent you to ensure the very best possible outcome. They will gather all the evidence related to your claim, such as healthcare records, reports by medical experts, and witness statements. A medical negligence lawyer will then actively pursue a settlement with the NHS, keeping you informed, while also offering advice on your legal options. In most cases, if the NHS accepts liability, claims are settled before they reach trial.  However, many claims for medical negligence require court proceedings before a settlement can be achieved.


Can I sue the NHS for death?  

Yes, you can sue the NHS for death on behalf of the estate of the deceased. Ordinarily, these claims are pursued by close relatives or Personal Representatives acting on their behalf. Compensation is typically awarded to immediate dependents of the deceased to cover any financial support and maintenance.


How long does the average NHS clinical negligence claim take?

No two medical malpractice and negligence claims are ever the same, so it is impossible to put an accurate figure on how long a claim will take. However, most claims are settled within two to three years. More complex clinical negligence claims that are multi-faceted and involve serious injury and losses may take years to settle.


Do the NHS settle out of court?

Yes, most medical negligence claims against the NHS are settled by negotiation, meaning you are highly unlikely to have the stress of a court case. If you sue the NHS and must go to trial, a medical attorney will be able to represent you.


What is the average payout for medical negligence in the NHS?

It’s almost impossible to put a figure on the average payout as every claim against the NHS is unique. Clinical negligence claims that resulted in a minor injury may be compensated a few thousand pounds. In contrast, claims for the most serious cases of medical malpractice and negligence that have resulted in serious life-altering injuries or even death with extensive financial losses have been compensated by awards of millions of pounds. However, it is important to note that these types of claims are the exception and not the norm. When you sue the NHS, an experienced medical negligence lawyer will be able to assess your claim and give you advice on what level of pay-out you will be likely to receive. You can read more about the calculations here.


How are medical negligence NHS compensation payouts determined?

Medical negligence pay-outs are designed to compensate you for your pain and suffering, as well to cover any financial losses. Compensation is typically broken down into two categories, general damages and special damages. The amount you receive will depend on the seriousness of your injuries and the extent of your losses. For example, a medical negligence claim that resulted in only a minor injury will receive far lower payout than medical negligence that resulted in life-changing injuries. General damages covers compensation for pain and suffering. Special damages will cover financial losses including medical expenses, loss of earnings, both past and in the future, as well as the cost of any care.


Is there a time limit to sue the NHS?

Yes, you have three years in which you can sue the NHS from the date of the negligent incident taking place or the date on which you became aware of the injury caused by negligence. However, if the patient is under 18 or has limited mental capacity, this timeframe may be extended. If you believe you have a medical negligence claim and wish to sue the NHS, then do not delay. Contact the medical negligence experts at Graysons today and let us handle your claim.


Is it wrong to sue the NHS?

Some people do feel uncomfortable about suing the NHS. After all, for the most part, the NHS does outstanding work and is a much-treasured UK institution. However, it is important to remember that everyone is entitled to an acceptable level of healthcare. When NHS care goes wrong, it is your legal right to sue the NHS for medical malpractice and negligence. Additionally, when you sue the NHS, it will help flag poor areas of healthcare, helping to ensure the same mistake does not happen to anyone else. Finally, it’s important to note that any compensation you do receive is not designed to benefit you financially, instead it is intended to put you back in the financial position you would have been in if the medical negligence had not occurred.


Why should I use an experienced medical lawyer to sue the NHS for medical negligence?  

If you decide to sue the NHS for clinical negligence, it may feel overwhelming. An experienced medical lawyer, such as the team of legal experts at Graysons will be able to expertly manage your NHS claim. If you think you have a claim for medical malpractice against the NHS and are searching for the best medical negligence solicitors, then contact the team at Graysons solicitors Sheffield.

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