How Do I Make A Claim Against The NHS? – A Complete Guide To NHS Compensation Claims

How Do You Make A Claim Against The NHS?

NHS medical negligence claim

Whether you’ve been misdiagnosed and treated for an illness you didn’t have, suffered harm during childbirth, endured surgical negligence, or contracted an infection in a hospital that should have been avoided, having your medical care go wrong could be quite stressful. Not only might you have suffered more pain or illness than you should, but you could also have been financially disadvantaged by the avoidable harm you’ve suffered. This could lead you to wonder ‘How do I make a claim against the NHS for negligence?’

While many patients receive a good standard of care from the NHS, if something goes wrong, you may be left with questions such as ‘Why did the NHS fail me?’ ‘How do I complain about my care,’ and  ‘How do I make a medical negligence claim?” The third question will be answered in detail in the sections below, but we will also cover the other questions as well as others that are frequently asked in such cases.

In the sections that follow, you will find useful information about making a complaint against the NHS, how you could take your claim further by pursuing legal action, and how a medical negligence lawyer could help you make a claim against the NHS for negligence. If you’d like assistance with starting a claim, or if you’d like free advice about making a claim, you can call our team directly on 0800 652 3087.

Jump To A Section

A Guide On How You Make A Claim Against The NHS

If you’ve been given substandard care by the NHS and it has led to you suffering harm that could have been avoided, whether by way of a misdiagnosis or because something has gone wrong with your treatment, you may be wondering whether there is any action you could take against the NHS to redress the balance. While sometimes something might go wrong with your medical care that is not the fault of the NHS, if negligence is involved and you suffer harm directly because of it, you could look into claiming compensation. For answers to common questions about claims, such as ‘How do I make a claim against the NHS on behalf of someone else?’ ‘How long could I have to claim compensation?’ and “What is the average payout for medical negligence in the UK?’ and many others, simply take a look at the sections below.

What Is A Claim Against The NHS?

Before we look at answering questions such as ‘How do you make a claim against the NHS?’, we should first explain what could constitute a valid claim. If you or someone you care for is avoidably harmed by medical negligence, you could consider making a claim for compensation for the pain and suffering caused by the negligence. This is because the NHS has a duty of care towards its patients, and if the duty of care is breached and it has caused harm to a patient, the NHS could be held liable.

What Reasons Can I Make A Claim Against The NHS?

Various types of negligence could lead to a claim against the NHS. These are explored later on in this guide but could include incidents such as:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Wrong-site surgery
  • Childbirth negligence
  • Dental negligence
  • GP negligence
  • Hospital negligence

Is It Ok To Claim Against The NHS?

Some people worry that making a claim against the NHS will impact frontline healthcare. However, the reality is that the NHS has insurance companies and reserves in place to cover medical negligence compensation payouts.

In this quick video below, our Head of Medical Negligence, Nick Banks, explains things in greater detail:

Who Could Make A Claim Against The NHS?

If your care has fallen below the minimum standard expected, and you have been harmed avoidably by such negligence, then you may be able to sue the NHS for compensation for both the suffering and pain you have endured because of the negligence and the financial harm it has caused you. However, if you or the person harmed is unable to claim, other people could make a claim against the NHS for negligence on yours or their behalf. These could include third parties such as:

  • A parent or guardian of a child who has been harmed
  • The next of kin of someone who has passed away due to negligence
  • A family member or friend of someone who does not have the capacity to claim for themselves
  • A professional advocate
  • A court of protection deputy
  • A solicitor
  • Someone with enduring or lasting power of attorney

How Do I Make A Claim Against The NHS As A Third Party?

To claim against the NHS on someone else’s behalf, you would have to apply to be a ‘litigation friend’. Your suitability would be assessed to ensure that there were no conflicting interests and you had the capability of making fair decisions about the case.

Check You Have A Valid Claim

Before we answer the question of ‘How do I make a claim against the NHS?’, we should first look at establishing whether you could be eligible to claim.

To have a valid claim against the NHS you would have to be able to prove that the duty of care the NHS owed you was breached.

Check To See If The NHS Breached Their Duty Of Care

According to the NHS Resolution website, in order for a breach of duty to be confirmed, the actions of the clinical professional should be assessed to ascertain whether the care you were given fell below what could be considered acceptable professional standards. One of the accepted tests for this is the Bolum Principle. It explores whether a responsible clinical body’s opinion would support the action/inaction taken by the practitioner. The Bolum Principle is not used for establishing what could have been done, but what should have been done instead.

NHS Never Events

Certain serious incidents should not happen within NHS care, as there are protocols in place to prevent these occurrences. These are classed as ‘never events’ and if they do happen, they require an investigation under what is known as the Serious Incident Framework. According to the Never Event List of 2018, the types of incidents that are classed as never events could include:

  • Wrong-site surgeries
  • Wrong implants/prostheses
  • Retained foreign objects
  • Strong potassium solutions given in error
  • Medication being given via the wrong route
  • Entrapment of neck or chest in bed-rails
  • Transfusion of blood components or organs that were ABO-incompatible
  • Unintentional connection of a patient to an airflow meter who required oxygen

Whether a never event or another type of mistake has been made in your care, and it has caused you to suffer avoidable harm, you could be eligible to claim against the NHS for the harm you have suffered.

What Steps Should I Take Before Claiming Against The NHS

Successful claims against the NHS require you to prove that you experienced avoidable harm due to the negligent treatment you received. To help you do so, you could take steps such as:

  1. Gathering evidence – It would be a good idea for you to write down what has happened to you, including the names of anyone who may have witnessed the negligence you’ve suffered. If you can get contact details too, this could be useful.
  2. Requesting your medical notes – It could be a good idea to request a copy of your medical notes so that these could be used to evidence your claim.
  3. Complain to the NHS – Making a written complaint does not preclude you from making a claim against the NHS. Putting what has happened to you in writing and asking them to investigate this could be useful, as it could form part of your claim.

Who Do I Make A Complaint To?

If you are unhappy about the care you’ve received from the NHS, you could first complain to the department/service that has provided your care. This could be your GP, the hospital, your dentist or another NHS healthcare provider. They should have their own complaints procedure, which you should be able to request from them.

You could, alternatively, opt to complain to the commissioner of the services you have received. You can do this in a variety of different ways.

  • For primary care complaints, you would usually complain to NHS England
  • For hospital care, mental health or out of hours and community services, you would usually complain to the CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group)
  • For public health complaints, your local authority would usually be the authority to contact

How Does The Process Of Making A Claim Against The NHS Work?

Each claim may be slightly different due to the circumstances. In general, however, claims would usually follow a loose timeline as follows:

  1. You could begin by obtaining assistance and advice from a medical negligence lawyer – Like a personal injury lawyer, a specialist lawyer that has experience in making claims of this type could assess your case and advise you on how you could move forward with a claim. They could use their experience to help you to sue the NHS for negligence and take on much of the hard work from you, allowing you to concentrate on your recovery.
  2. Seeing a medical expert – As part of any medical malpractice or personal injury claim, you would need to have an independent medical assessment to get a report detailing your prognosis and your medical condition.
  3. Putting together your case – Your solicitor would be able to put together a letter of claim that could then be sent to the NHS, just like a personal injury solicitor could for most personal injury claims. The NHS should then respond to the letter, accepting or denying liability.
  4. If the NHS accepts liability, your lawyer would then begin to negotiate a settlement for you. If they deny liability, then your solicitor should review the evidence and come back to you to discuss taking the matter further, which could include court action.

Proving That The NHS Was Liable For Your Negligent Care

How do I make a claim against the NHS and prove the NHS was liable? This could be considered a common question and the answer would lie in the evidence you could collect from the medical experts you see as part of your claim. Usually, in these types of claims, medical evidence is the most crucial aspect of the case. Independent medical witnesses, such as professional doctors, are sought to examine you and provide their impartial and professional opinion on whether you have suffered negligence and whether this has caused you to suffer avoidable harm.

It is worth mentioning that in some cases, more than one medical witness may be required to corroborate your case.

Will My Claim Need To Go To Court?

Many claims against the NHS never reach court. Instead, they are usually settled between NHS Resolution and the claimant or the claimant’s lawyer. However, if you want to know how you make a claim against the NHS that does require court action, we could connect you with a lawyer that could represent you in court to fight for the compensation you deserve.

Time Limits To Make A Claim Against The NHS

As well as wanting questions such as ‘How do I make a claim against the NHS?’ answered, you might also wish to know how long you have to make a claim against the NHS. The medical negligence time limit, like the personal injury claims time limit, is usually three years. However, this three-year period would usually begin on the date you became aware that you had suffered avoidable harm because of NHS negligence. This may not be the same date that the negligent incident occurred.

There are exceptions to the three-year limitation period. These could relate to those looking to claim on behalf of a child, as a litigation friend. They would usually have until the child turned 18 to claim. There are also exceptions to those suffering a mental health condition that leaves them unable to manage their own affairs, as well as those that lack the physical capacity to claim. To find out more about the limitation period that could apply to your claim, please do not hesitate to call our team.

How long does a claim against the NHS take?

The timescale for a claim to be settled could vary significantly between cases. In some cases, the NHS might admit liability right away, while in others, it might dispute liability. If liability is admitted, it would then be a case of your lawyer negotiating a compensation settlement on your behalf. Any denial of liability could mean your case takes longer to settle.

If you are struggling financially due to the injuries caused by the negligence you’ve suffered, a lawyer may be able to negotiate an interim payout to ease the financial burden you’re facing. While this is not possible in all cases, it may be worth considering asking your lawyer about this option.

What Could I Claim? NHS Claims Compensation Calculator

How much does the NHS payout in compensation? The answer really depends on each case. There is no fixed fee for NHS compensation payouts, and your claim would be assessed based on its own specific set of facts. Medical negligence cases payouts in the UK usually include general damages and special damages. Special damages are meant to compensate you for the financial harm caused by your injuries, while general damages are designed to compensate you for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity caused by your injuries.

General Damages NHS Compensation Payouts Guide

Below, instead of using a medical negligence or personal injury claims calculator to give you an idea of how much you could receive for the injuries you’ve sustained, we’ve opted to give you an idea of what the Judicial College Guidelines suggest could be appropriate for certain injuries that could relate to an NHS medical negligence claim. These are only rough guidelines, as, when it comes to general damages, you would have to see a medical professional that was independent of your case so that they could write a report that could be used to value your medical negligence claim. This would detail your medical condition and your prognosis.

Type of InjuryNotesCompensation Bracket
InfertilityCaused by the failure to diagnose a pregnancy that was ectopic – with complications.£31,950 to £95,850
Kidney damageSerious damage (permanent) to both kidneys£158,970 to £197,480
Lung diseaseSerious harm to the function of the lungs, impairing the injured party’s breathing ability. Disturbance to sleep, prolonged coughing and restrictions on ability to work and physical ability of the injured party could also feature.£51,420 to £65,710
Lung diseaseFrequent need for inhalers for those with breathing difficulties. Injuries in this category do not include those where there is disabling breathlessness. Prognosis would likely be unclear but there would have already been significant impacts on the social life and ability to work of the injured party.£19,510 to £29,380
HerniaWith continuing pain post-repair. Limitations on physical activities would also feature.£13,980 to £22,680
Moderate brain damageAbility to work could be completely eliminated or reduced due to intellectual deficits (modest to moderate). The injured party could have a risk of epilepsy.£85,150 to £140,870
Significant scarringA number of noticeable scars from lacerations, or one, solitary disfiguring scar located on the arms, legs, back, chest or hands.£7,350 to £21,330

If you do not see your injuries in the table above, please do not hesitate to call our team on 0800 652 0387. We could help furnish you with guideline payout brackets for other injuries too.

Special Damages Guide

The special damages payouts for a medical negligence claim could be similar to a personal injury claim, as they could include a range of costs and losses incurred because of your injuries. Examples could include:

  • Care costs – Have you had to get someone to help you with daily tasks such as dressing, washing and cooking while you recovered from your injuries? If so, you could include these costs as part of your claim.
  • Income loss – If you have required sick leave from work to recover from your injuries, and you have lost out on income, loss of income could also be added to your claim. If the injuries you sustained were so severe you were unable to return to work, future income losses could also be included in a claim against the NHS.
  • Medical costs – You might have needed to pay medical expenses due to the harm you’ve experienced from clinical negligence in the NHS. Examples could include prescription charges, physiotherapy, and counselling. These could be included within your claim.
  • Travel costs – When you are suing the NHS for negligence, you may have cause to travel to see your lawyer. Costs for these journeys could be included in your claim, as well as costs for travel to medical appointments.
  • Funeral costs – If you are suing the NHS for the death of a loved one due to clinical negligence, you may be able to claim compensation for funeral costs.

No Win No Fee Claims Against The NHS

Are you considering claiming for medical negligence from the NHS? Would you like to benefit from the assistance of a medical negligence lawyer to help you launch your claim? If you’re worried that this would mean you’d have to make an upfront payment to your lawyer, then you may be surprised to know that if you launched your claim on a No Win, No Fee basis, there would be nothing for you to pay until your claim was completed and successful.

If you chose to work with a No Win, No Fee medical negligence lawyer, they would ask you to sign a Conditional Fee Agreement at the start of your NHS negligence claim. This document would promise your lawyer a small success fee if they were able to secure a compensation payout for you. The fee would be legally capped, so you would not have to worry that a large proportion of your compensation would have to be used to pay your lawyer. If a medical negligence solicitor was unable to secure you any payout, you would not have to pay the success fee or cover their costs of pursuing your claim. This could give you the financial confidence to go ahead with a claim. If you would like to know more about making a claim on a No Win, No Fee basis, please feel free to call us; we’d be glad to answer any questions you might have.

Contact Us To Claim Against The NHS

Now we have provided you with guidance on how to claim against the NHS for the harm you’ve suffered due to medical negligence, you may wish to go ahead with a claim or you may have further questions about suing the NHS. Either way, the team at Medical Negligence Assist could help you. We could not only furnish you with answers to any questions you may have about making an NHS medical negligence claim, but we could also offer an eligibility check for free to see if it could be worth proceeding. We could even connect you with a No Win, No Fee solicitor to fight for compensation on your behalf. It’s easy to get in touch with our team. You can reach us on 0800 652 3087, or use the contact form here, instead. Otherwise, you could use our handy live chat feature.

Helpful Links

NHS Complaints – Here, you can see how to complain to the NHS about services that you’re not happy about.

NHS Negligence Claims Statistics– On this page, you’ll find annual accounts from NHS Resolution from 2017/18 which contains NHS negligence claims statistics. 

Information On Never Events – This publication from the NHS provides information on the never events framework.

Medical Negligence Claims Against A Hospital – Here, you can find our guide to making claims against a hospital.

Claiming For Misdiagnosis – This guide offers useful information regarding misdiagnosis claims.

Birth Injury Claims – This informative guide provides guidance on making a claim for injuries due to negligence in childbirth.

Written by Jo

Edited by Ed