GPs sit at the heart of community-based medical care. They are our primary physicians who, in some cases, have known us since birth. That’s why it is critical that their care is of the highest standard and that they correctly identify, diagnose and treat our symptoms or refer us to a specialist team. Most GPs uphold this standard of care and take care of their patients with diligence and professionalism. There are however, some GPs who, through negligence, have caused significant physical, emotional and financial harm to their patients. According to the NHS Resolution Annual Report for 2021 and 2022, clinical negligence claims have risen by 13% from the previous year to 15,078.
With that in mind, if you, or a loved one, have been hurt due to GP negligence, it is crucial that you understand that support is out there, and you may be entitled to compensation.
When is a GP negligent?
A GP is negligent when they do not uphold the expected medical standard and duty of care, resulting in an error that causes avoidable but serious consequences for their patient.
Examples of GP negligence
The following are examples of how a GP may be negligent:
- Failing to pay proper care and attention to the patient resulting in accidental harm;
- Failing to conduct an adequate examination of the patient;
- Failure to investigate symptoms fully;
- Failure to diagnose or correctly identify an illness or condition;
- Failure to refer a patient to a specialist or for exploratory tests;
- Failure to act on test results and inform the patient of those results;
- Failure to prescribe new or the correct medication or treatment;
- Failure to consider a patient’s medical history when making a diagnosis.
If you do not see your complaint on this list, please remember it is not exhaustive, and your complaint may still be a valid example of GP negligence.
Who should I make a complaint to?
To make a complaint about your GP, you will need to follow the NHS complaints process initially. Some, but not all, GP practices will have this process advertised on their website. Although this won’t gain you compensation, it will help you to understand if you have a compensation claim and will ensure you receive an apology.
If you do not feel the response you have been given is adequate, then it would be essential for you to contact a solicitor who specialises in clinical negligence.
What do I need to prove?
In order to prove GP negligence, there must be evidence that your doctor, through their action or inaction, has caused you significant harm. In short, there must be proof that:
- The GP was negligent (at fault), and your care was below the expected standard of a competent medical professional.
- Their actions caused you an injury, pain or loss that was avoidable.
Alternatively, this is sometimes known as the Four D’s of Medical Malpractice, which refers to the key elements that prove clinical negligence:
- Duty refers to the GP’s failure to listen, act and refer their patient.
- Dereliction refers to the GP’s failure to meet the expected medical standard.
- Direct causation refers to the need for an explicit link between their actions and the patient’s suffering.
- Damage refers to the physical, financial and emotional pain you have suffered due to GP negligence.
If all of these are present, you will have a claim and must speak to a solicitor. It is also important to remember that you can claim on behalf of a loved one who has died or cannot claim for themselves.
GP Negligence Facts
Is there a time limit?
You have three years from the date of the alleged negligence or from your ‘date of knowledge’ to claim, whether it was immediately apparent after your treatment or diagnosed years later. Regardless, it is critical you start your complaint as soon as possible to allow your solicitor to gather the complex medical evidence they’ll need to make your claim.
How long do claims take?
The answer depends on the complexity of the case. Most claims can take up to 12 months; however, more challenging and complex cases can take years to settle.
Do I need to change surgeries?
No, you don’t have to; it is a personal choice. If you do leave, we’d recommend placing a complaint via your GP’s complaints process, either by yourself or with the support of your solicitor.
Contact Waldrons Solicitors
Discovering that you or a loved one has been hurt by GP negligence can be highly distressing and cause significant suffering to you and your family. That’s why our team of dedicated clinical negligence lawyers are on hand to support you through this difficult period and help you to make a claim. We understand that compensation can’t bring someone back or prevent your suffering, but it can help to lighten your financial load and shine a light on the mistakes made by your GP.
As part of our service, we offer a free telephone consultation to discuss if you have a claim, followed by an in-person meeting to discuss the details either over the telephone, at home or at one of our offices. Most of our Clinical Negligence Claims are also brought on a ‘No Win, No Fee’ basis. Our mission is to make the process as stress-free as possible as we work with you to get you the compensation you deserve.
Contact Waldrons solicitors
Whatever your query, get in touch with us here at Waldrons today.
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Last reviewed on 11/07/23 by Joseph Norton who is a Director and Head of Compensation