Compensation Claims For NHS Hospital Negligence
If you can prove that you’ve been harmed by NHS hospital negligence, then you may be entitled to claim compensation for this.
You may have experienced an injury or illness as a result of negligent healthcare from an NHS hospital. Or an existing condition may have been missed, misdiagnosed or aggravated while you were under the care of an NHS hospital. Whatever exactly has happened, you could claim for your injuries or illnesses if you can find evidence that a healthcare professional breached their duty of care towards you and you were harmed as a result.
In this guide, we’ll explain more about how duty of care in NHS hospitals works and the ways this could be breached. We’ll also talk more about specific types of negligence that can occur within NHS hospitals. We’ll look at how compensation may be calculated for hospital negligence claims. Additionally, we’ll explain what time limits usually apply for starting a claim.
For free legal advice on starting a personal injury claim for this type of negligence, you can contact Medical Negligence Assist today. You can reach us online through our live chat service or with our claim online form. You can also call us on 0800 652 3087.
Select A Section
- What Is NHS Hospital Negligence?
- Duty Of Care In Hospital Healthcare
- What Are The Main Types Of NHS Hospital Negligence?
- NHS Hospital A&E Negligence
- MRSA, MSSA And C. Difficile Negligence Claims
- Diagnostic And Treatment Errors
- Orthopaedic Surgery Negligence
- Medication Errors In NHS Hospitals
- Surgical Negligence
- How Long Do You Have To Claim For NHS Hospital Negligence?
- Calculating NHS Hospital Negligence Claims
- No Win No Fee Claims For NHS Hospital Negligence Compensation
- Talk To An Expert
- How Many People Are Affected By Hospital Negligence?
- Related Information
- FAQs On NHS Hospital Negligence Claims
NHS hospital negligence refers to instances where an NHS care provider breaches the duty of care they owe you through negligent behaviour and perhaps fails to follow regulations such as the NHS constitution. A breach can occur when an NHS staff member or hospital acts in a manner that unreasonably harms or worsens your health.
When you go to an NHS hospital to receive healthcare, the hospital and the staff there owe you a duty of care. As part of this, the hospital and its staff should take reasonable steps to ensure you receive appropriate treatment. If an NHS staff member makes a mistake that they realistically could have prevented or breached their duty of care in a deliberate manner, then this could be considered negligent behaviour on their part.
If other healthcare professionals would’ve behaved differently and avoided causing unnecessary harm, the healthcare worker’s actions may be deemed negligent. This could possibly lead to a medical negligence claim from the victim if they have proof that the negligence occurred and they suffered as a result.
Medical negligence can have very serious consequences, including injuries or illness for the affected patients. Existing conditions a patient may have could be aggravated or take longer to treat than if the negligence hadn’t occurred.
All medical professionals in the UK, such as doctors, owe each of their patients a duty of care. This duty sets out the standards of care they should meet. For NHS staff in England, the duty of care they must follow is explained in the NHS constitution. The NHS in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have separate but similar policies for their staff.
The NHS constitution sets out the rights, pledges and responsibilities for staff and patients within the NHS. The pledges and values establish what commitments the NHS aims to achieve, although they are not legally binding. However, there are legal rights within the constitution in order to protect the interests of patients. Examples of these legal rights for patients include the following:
- All care for patients should be received at a professional standard.
- NHS services should be free, except in certain circumstances. You should not be refused access to NHS services on unreasonable grounds.
- Nobody should be unlawfully discriminated against when receiving NHS services.
- You can accept or refuse treatments offered to you. A physical examination or treatment should not be given to you without valid consent.
- When you are unable to provide valid consent to treatment on your own, then it must come from someone who can legally act on your behalf. Treatment can be given without consent, but only when it can be proven that it’s in your best interests.
If you are affected by a breach of your legal rights and/or the duty of care which NHS staff owe you, then you could consider legal action. The NHS recommends you complain to them first before starting a compensation claim. It may be possible that a complaint can resolve your issue before a claim becomes necessary.
You don’t have to use the NHS complaints procedure to get a claim started. You may even decide to make a claim even if you start a complaint first. However, a complaint could provide useful information about the incident which has affected you. It could allow you to make a more informed decision in regards to whether to make a claim or not.
Negligence in NHS hospitals can come in numerous forms. Which type you may experience largely depends on what type of NHS centre you attend for care and what type of treatment you are receiving. Examples of NHS hospital negligence can include the following:
- Accident and Emergency (A&E) negligence
- MRSA, MSSA, C. Difficile and other hospital infections
- A missed or delayed diagnosis, despite having all the appropriate information to correctly diagnose
- Inappropriate or inadequate treatment for a condition, despite clear symptoms requiring clear treatment
- Avoidable surgical errors that cause unnecessary harm
- Medication errors (such as prescribing the wrong medicine or at a dose that is too high or too low)
- Avoidable dental errors that cause unnecessary harm
- Needlestick injuries
Accident and emergency (A&E) departments run by the NHS provide a vital public service by dealing with genuine life-threatening emergencies. While the healthcare professionals at A&E are usually able to deliver effective and efficient care, things can unfortunately sometimes go wrong. Potential errors which could occur within an NHS A&E department could include:
- Inadequate patient examination
- Incorrect treatment or medication
- Avoidable delays to treatment
- Errors during medical exams that cause unnecessary injuries
- Hospital infections
- Inadequate postoperative care that leads to illness
One of the potential risks NHS hospitals should protect their patients from is the spread of infections. If hygiene and medical practices are not followed to a high enough standard in a hospital, then bacterial infections such as MRSA, MSSA and Clostridium Difficile (C. Difficile) could be caught by patients.
Certain potential types of negligent behaviour in an NHS hospital could increase the risk of patients catching infections. Examples can include:
- Reusing surgical tools or other medical equipment without cleaning them properly.
- Careless hand washing without proper sanitation by staff.
- Inadequate cleaning and sanitation of surfaces, facilities and equipment.
- Infected materials are not disposed of properly.
- Failing to screen patients before admission.
- An avoidable delay in diagnosing or treating an infection.
- Inadequate treatment of an infection.
Another potential form of NHS hospital negligence is when something goes wrong with diagnosing or treating a condition. When seeing an NHS medical professional about symptoms you have, there could possibly be a delay in identifying your condition for one of several reasons:
- Your condition is misdiagnosed as a different condition, despite clear symptoms.
- Tests or examinations which should be used to confirm your condition are either not carried out or not done properly.
- Medical test/exam results could be misinterpreted by a doctor, despite being clear, meaning your condition is missed.
If an NHS hospital fails to identify a condition you have correctly, this can lead to a delay in getting the right treatment. Further suffering from your condition could occur, or your condition may be aggravated. Additional health problems may even be created if your diagnosis and/or treatment is delayed or incorrect.
Certain NHS hospitals are able to carry out orthopaedic surgery. This type of surgery is carried out to treat conditions related to the musculoskeletal system. Bones, muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments are all parts that may be operated on during this type of surgery. Fractured bones, knee strain and back pain are examples of some of the conditions which may be treated by orthopaedic surgery.
As part of their duty of care, surgeons who carry out this type of surgery should do so to the minimum standard of care at least. To achieve this, the surgeons should take reasonable steps to avoid any foreseeable issues with such procedures. If a surgeon fails to meet these standards, then a patient being treated could be unreasonably harmed and a negligence claim may follow.
Examples of orthopaedic surgery negligence can include:
- Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, despite clear symptoms, causing an unnecessary prolonging of the condition.
- Avoidable errors during surgery that causes injuries to the patient such as scarring or nerve damage.
- Surgery takes place in the wrong area of the body due to the surgeon not checking properly.
- A foreign object is accidentally left in the patient’s body at the end of surgery and causes pain.
While attending an NHS hospital, you may be prescribed medication to help treat your condition. This could be given to you before, during or after certain other medical procedures. It will depend on what exactly you are being treated for.
If, however, a healthcare provider is negligent, then a medication error could occur which could seriously harm you. Examples of medication errors can include:
- Receiving the wrong medication for your condition.
- Receiving medication at a dose that is too low or too high.
- Being prescribed medication that clashes with another condition you have or other medications you’re currently taking.
- Being prescribed medication to which you are known to be allergic to.
- Being prescribed medication to take at the wrong time.
Surgery can be offered by NHS hospitals. While the vast majority of operations go as planned, some can, unfortunately, include mistakes or complications. If a mistake is made during a surgical procedure due to negligent behaviour, then that can potentially cause a lot of harm to the patient being treated.
Surgical negligence at hospitals may include consequences such as:
- Nerve damage
- Damage to organs
- Unexpected or excessive scarring
- The patient catches an infection from the surgery
- Complications from giving anaesthetic to the patient
- Surgical treatment is given to the wrong area of the body (wrong site surgery)
If you have evidence that you were harmed by a breach in duty of care which an NHS hospital owed you, then you may be entitled to claim compensation. You will, however, need to make sure that you start your potential claim in time.
The standard time limit for beginning a hospital negligence claim is usually three years from the day your injuries occurred. If your injuries could not be immediately identified, then the time limit will start from the date they were diagnosed. This is alternatively known as the date of knowledge.
Under certain circumstances, the time limit may be frozen, at least temporarily. If a child is harmed by medical negligence, then the time limit for claiming doesn’t start immediately for them. Instead, it won’t start until the child reaches the age of 18.
A child can’t start a personal injury claim on their own. However, a representative known as a litigation friend may be able to start such a claim on the child’s behalf. This representative could be a parent or guardian.
The time limit for claiming can also be frozen if the victim lacks the mental capacity to make their own decisions. Like with children, a claim may possibly be started on behalf of the victim by a litigation friend. In the event that the victim recovers enough mental capacity to act on their own behalf, then the three-year time limit will come into effect from the day this happens.
If you’re making a hospital negligence claim, then the amount of compensation you could receive can vary a lot. Your payout, if your claim succeeds, will depend on several factors. These include what injuries you’ve suffered, how severe they are and how much they’ve impacted on your quality of life.
You can view the compensation table below to see potential payments for different injuries you may suffer due to medical negligence. These brackets come from the Judicial College guidelines and are based on payments made in past cases. Solicitors may use these brackets to help calculate the value of your injuries based on their severity.
|Illness/Damage Resulting from Non-traumatic Injury||Severe||£36,060 to £49,270|
|Illness/Damage Resulting from Non-traumatic Injury||Serious But Short-Lived||£8,950 to £18,020|
|Illness/Damage Resulting from Non-traumatic Injury||Significant Discomfort For A Few Weeks||£3,710 to £8,950|
|Illness/Damage Resulting from Non-traumatic Injury||Disabling Pain For Some Days Or Weeks||Up to £3,710|
|Mental Anguish||Fear Of Impending Death/Reduction In Expectation Of Life||£4,380|
|Psychiatric Damage Generally||Severe||£51,460 to £108,620|
|Psychiatric Damage Generally||Moderately Severe||£17,900 to £51,460|
|Psychiatric Damage Generally||Less Severe||Up to £5,500|
|Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder||Severe||£56,180 to £94,470|
|Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder||Moderately Severe||£21,730 to £56,180|
Compensation for injuries such as those listed in the table cover ‘general damages’. If you are eligible to receive compensation for general damages, you may also receive additional compensation for ‘special damages’.
Compensation for special damages is provided to cover financial losses caused by your injuries. Examples of financial losses which could be covered under special damages payments include the following:
- Lost earnings due to your injury forcing you to take unpaid time off work.
- Travel expenses which have been due to travelling to receive medical treatment.
- Loss of earning capacity if your injuries have forced a job change which earns you less than your previous one.
Here at Medical Negligence Assist, we can advise on making a negligence claim on a No Win No Fee basis. If you choose to hire a solicitor to support your claim, then you may sign a No Win No Fee agreement with them. This type of agreement can offer several benefits, including the following:
- There is no need to pay legal fees upfront to your solicitor.
- You also won’t be required to pay legal fees during the process of your claim either.
- If you’re unsuccessful with your claim, then you will not be required to pay your solicitor’s legal fees. This gives your solicitor extra motivation to work hard on your case, since they face extra risk.
If you succeed with your No Win No Fee claim, then a small percentage of your compensation will be deducted by your solicitor. They will do this in order to cover their legal fees. However, the amount they can charge is capped by law.
You are welcome to contact Medical Negligence Assist today for free legal advice on making a medical negligence claim. We can advise on the specific requirements and steps required in order to make a claim for NHS hospital negligence. If you have evidence that you were harmed due to a breach in duty of care by an NHS hospital, then we can advise on your potential legal action. You can contact us through the following methods:
NHS Resolution, which represents NHS staff and hospitals during negligence claims, published annual reports about the negligence cases which it handles. According to its report and accounts for 2019/20, 11,682 new clinical negligence claims and reported incidents were recorded by the NHS within that time period.
As many as 15,550 claims were resolved in the same period. Among the resolved claims, 71.5% did not require court proceedings. 27.9% of the claims involved court proceedings. Just 0.6% of the claims went to trial.
According to the BMJ, more than 237 million medication errors are made every year in England. The avoidable consequences of these errors are estimated to cost the NHS upwards of £98 million and over 1,700 lives every year.
For more guidance on medical negligence claims, you can check out our related guides below:
- What Proof Of Medical Negligence Do You Need To Claim Compensation?
- Private Healthcare Medical Negligence Compensation Claims Guide
- NHS Resolution website
Legislation: The National Health Service (Clinical Negligence Scheme for General Practice) Regulations 2019
- Clinical Negligence Scheme For Coronavirus
In this final section of our medical negligence claim guide, we’ve answered some frequently asked questions on the subject.
Could you claim for fatal medical negligence?
If someone close to you has died due to fatal medical negligence, then you may be able to claim compensation on behalf of the deceased person. Compensation paid for the fatality could provide financial support to you and the deceased’s family.
To succeed with this type of claim, you’ll need proof that a medical professional or hospital owed a duty of care to the deceased person. It will also need to be shown that the care provider breached this duty of care through negligence and this error ultimately caused (or contributed to) the patient’s death.
Can I claim if my child was harmed by NHS hospital negligence?
If you have evidence that your child was harmed due to negligent behaviour by an NHS hospital, then you may be able to claim compensation on your child’s behalf. You could request to be appointed as a litigation friend to represent your child, or a court may nominate you. The case will need to establish that an NHS hospital owed your child a duty of care and this duty was breached through negligent behaviour that directly harmed your child.
Thank you for reading our guide on NHS hospital negligence claims.
Guide by Stephen
Edited by Ruth