Can you Sue the NHS for Medical Negligence?
In the UK, the NHS is an organisation that is treasured across the board. For many, it is one of the country’s greatest achievements and something that we are proud to have, to use, and to work in. This does not mean, however, that they do not make mistakes. And this does not mean that those who suffer do not have the right to financial help to get their lives on track.
When there is an incident or series of incidents that happen in a healthcare setting, this is known as medical negligence. Medical negligence can be grounds to sue someone. If you sue the NHS for medical negligence, it is important to remember that it is not about getting money out of them for no reason. This is money that is intended to help you to live your life – compensating for everything from lost wages to the money that you need to get specialist equipment.
What is medical negligence?
Medical or clinical negligence can occur at any point in your dealings in a healthcare environment. Medical negligence occurs when you have received (or not received) treatment that has resulted in an existing condition worsening or a new injury that could have been avoided both physically and psychologically. If this has happened to you, you have a case for medical negligence.
Some of the most common cases of medical negligence include:
- Misdiagnosis of cancer
- Delayed diagnosis of conditions
- Errors during surgery
- Clinical Negligence - Instances where the incorrect treatment or medication is given
- Birth injuries to both the mother and infant
- Hospital-acquired infections
- Errors during referral
- Lack of warning related to risks before a procedure
Medical negligence within the NHS can occur in all settings, including GPs, hospitals, dentists, and doctors.
How do I sue the NHS for negligence?
If you think that you have a medical negligence claim to make against the NHS, the first step is to find a solicitor who deals with medical negligence claims. When you explain your case to them, they will be able to give you an indication of whether you have a case and are likely to be successful in suing the NHS.
Depending on the case, the process of suing the NHS can be quick and simple, or it can be long and complicated. It is important to remember that it can be a stressful and sometimes upsetting process, especially if you are going through a hard time anyway due to the situation that you are in. You may wish to ensure that you have emotional support from friends and family throughout the process.
You can also sue the NHS for medical negligence on behalf of someone who has passed away or who is unable to represent themselves.
When you find a medical negligence solicitor, they will initiate the process and make sure that you get the best outcome for you.
When you use the NHS, you should expect that the service that you receive is competent and that the standard of care that you are receiving is reasonable. You also have the right to expect that the care you are receiving is in your best interests. Therefore, you could have a case for medical negligence if:
- You received a below standard level of care from what you believe to be reasonable from a competent healthcare professional, and
- That you have suffered psychological or physical harm or injury as a result of the treatment.
Collect your evidence
Once that you have appointed a solicitor that specialises in medical negligence, they will begin to gather evidence to back up your case. This evidence can comprise of a number of documents, including:
- Medical reports
- Healthcare records
- Witness statements
Once that they have all of the evidence that they can collect, the solicitor will then proceed to pursue a settlement.
Complain to the NHS
Before you proceed with suing the NHS, the first step is to make a complaint through the NHS Complaints Procedure. This is specifically set up to deal with patient dissatisfaction with general medical procedures. The idea is that complaints are dealt with quickly and effectively and can also help to highlight where there are problems within the service.
It is important to remember that a compensation claim can only be made through the NHS Complaints Procedure if:
- You received treatment that was negligent
- This directly caused your illness or injury
Is there a time limit to sue the NHS?
When it comes to suing the NHS, you have a time limit of three years to sue them from the date of the incident that you believe to be negligent – or the date of when you noticed the injury. For people with limited mental capacity or those under 18, this time frame can be extended under some circumstances.
Find a solicitor
Suing the NHS for medical negligence can be stressful and emotional. It can often be easier to have a solicitor that specialises in medical negligence to take the case on for you, represent you, and help to ensure the best outcome for you.