While the NHS provides high levels of service and care for the population most of the time, mistakes, omissions and errors can happen during the course of treatment for an illness or medical condition. When that occurs, the consequences can be severe for the individual and their family.
When something goes wrong with your treatment you may require long-term care, may no longer be able to work, and your home may need adaptation. As well as these practical aspects, there’s also emotional consequences to consider.
If something goes wrong with your NHS treatment is it possible to sue the NHS for clinical negligence?
Taking legal action for clinical negligence
It’s perfectly possible to take action against the NHS if the treatment you received has resulted in injury. Whether it was GP negligence, hospital malpractice, dental medical negligence, or malpractice in nursing, if the standard of care falls below an acceptable level then this can have consequences. If those consequences are financial loss, reduced life expectancy and even death, then you or your family are likely to be able to make a successful claim against the NHS.
It’s also important to remember that clinical negligence can happen at any time during your treatment by the NHS, from your initial appointment with a medical professional to the end of your treatment.
What can I sue the NHS for?
Because of the breadth and scope of NHS treatment, there are a wide range of potential reasons why you may wish to sue the NHS. Here are some of the primary reasons why people make clinical negligence claims:
- Failure to correctly diagnose your condition.
- A mistake was made during a procedure or operation.
- The wrong drug was prescribed.
- Informed consent to treatment was not received.
- Failure to properly warn about the risks of a particular treatment.
If an injury has been suffered as a result of medical treatment, it may be referred to as a ‘medical accident’ or ‘patient safety incident’. This does not necessarily mean that your treatment was negligent. It’s only possible to make a medical negligence claim if it can be shown that on the balance of probability that:
- Your treatment was carried out negligently. In practice, this means that the care you received fell below acceptable standards.
- It also needs to be shown that this negligent care was the cause of your injury.
What is the average compensation?
According to NHS Resolution, the average payout for medical negligence in the UK is £50,000. Payments can be as little as £1,000 to several million pounds depending on the specifics of each case. The figure will be influenced by the estimated time for recovery, the financial implications of the injury, as well as the cost of any further treatment.
Some of the factors that will be taken into account will include:
- Compensation for pain and suffering.
- Payment for ongoing treatment
- Loss of earnings
- The cost of any extra care or equipment you may need
- The cost of adapting your home
- Compensation for psychological damage
A claim can also be made for the next of kin of someone who has died or who lacks the capacity to make their own claim. The court will also take into account certain social security benefits you may be entitled to because of your injury before deciding on the level of compensation you receive.
Is it wrong to sue the NHS?
Many people have concerns about the ethics of suing the NHS if they are the victims of medical negligence. They may have concerns that any compensation they receive is money that could go towards delivering frontline services. However, few people bring a medical negligence claim without carefully considering their options. There are no punitive sanctions applied to the NHS as a part of the case. Instead, claims lead to reviews of how care is delivered, more joined-up risk monitoring and an overall reduction in clinical negligence claims.
The NHS works hard to reduce medical negligence and claims can help to spotlight issues either with particular practitioners or services.
Experienced help for your medical negligence case
At Mark Reynolds Solicitors, we are experienced at handling complex medical negligence cases for our clients. All clinical or medical negligence enquiries are completely free of charge. We will assess all available funding options and we can normally act for clients on a no-win-no-fee agreement. If you’d like to discuss your options and what we can do for you, please call 0800 002 9577 or click here to go to our contact page.