Claiming Compensation for NHS Negligence
Eligibility for making a negligence claim against the NHS
The National Health Service (NHS) is a publicly-funded healthcare system in the United Kingdom. It is the largest and oldest system of its kind. While many patients receive first-rate care through the NHS, mistakes certainly can – and do – happen.
NHS negligence can happen anytime: during the treatment of an illness, an accident, an incorrect surgery, a routine check-up or a mistaken medicine prescription, just to name a few. In anticipation of mistakes such as these, the NHS has set aside funds to cover claims-related expenses.
If you’ve been injured because your health care provider took actions or made omissions that deviate from the medical community’s standards of practice, you are eligible to make a claim for NHS negligence compensation. Our injury solicitors specialize in these types of claims and can offer the guidance you need to move forward. Simply call our freephone number of fill out the online claim form.
Gathering evidence to support a claim
NHS Negligence claims can be extremely difficult to prove. However, this is not to discourage you. If you have suffered an injury at the hands of a medical professional, it may very well be possible that you deserve compensation. There are a few factors that determine whether or not NHS negligence was at play.
First, you and your solicitor must prove that the medical practitioner owed you a standard of care. This is usually simple enough, as he or she likely agreed to take you on as a patient. Next, you must prove that the doctor or other medical professional breached this duty of care and that that breach directly caused, or contributed to, your injuries. This is where it can get a little tricky as it may be that the injury would have occurred regardless of any breach of care.
Your solicitor will need to approach medical professionals and other specialists for expert testimony to use as evidence. It is likely that your solicitor already has connections with many qualified experts in the medical community.
Making a court appearance
Many personal injury claims are settled out-of-court. Companies, employers and individuals often recognize that they are at fault and typically make quick settlements in order to avoid expensive legal costs. In this situation, you wouldn’t have to step one foot into a courtroom in order to fight your claim.
NHS negligence claims can be different, however, as the medical professional’s reputation is on the line. Should the opposing party deny liability, there is a good chance you will have to go to court. No need to worry. Your solicitor will ensure that you are well prepared with a solid case and strong evidence.
Proving NHS negligence occurred
A successful claim for compensation against the NHS will consist of demonstrating that:
a) You have suffered an injury, and…
b) That the injury in question was caused by the negligence of someone working in the NHS
Whereas some personal injury cases, such as those involving a road traffic accident, are fairly simple to mount in terms of demonstrating negligence, NHS cases can be much more complex. This is because the definition of negligent treatment may well be regarded differently by various medical experts. There are, however, set guidelines which will enable your personal injury lawyer to gauge whether you have a strong case. The traditional criteria is known as the ‘Bolam Test’, which judged negligence on the basis of how other practitioners in the field would have behaved. In recent years, however, courts have adopted a more flexible view, allowing them to interpret negligence claims against other criteria such as NICE (National Institute of Health and Care Excellence) guidelines.
Claims against the NHS
Any claim against the NHS will be defended by the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA), which was founded in 1995 and pledges to ‘ensure that claims made against the NHS are handled fairly and consistently, with due regard to the interests of both patients and the NHS.’
Only 2% of the cases dealt with by the NHSLA reach court, with the Authority preferring, where possible, to settle cases via mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution. A guide to the mediation work carried out in partnership with the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), can be found at: http://www.cedr.com/solve/services/?p=33
The right to make a claim
People sometimes feel reluctant to launch a claim against the NHS for a variety of reasons. The first is usually a sense of foreboding over taking on a huge and monolithic body such as the NHS. That’s where our expert medical negligence lawyers come to the fore, as they will be able to work with you every step of the way, building your case and, if need be, fighting it in court. The second reason why people sometimes hesitate to make a claim is a sense of guilt over ‘attacking’ a beloved British institution. The fact of the matter is, however, that the constitution of the NHS itself, as well as enshrining your right to make a complaint and have it dealt with, includes the right to receive compensation if you’ve been harmed via an act of negligence.
How long it takes to make an NHS negligence claim
Everyone’s claim is different and so there is no standard time frame. Some claims may be finished in a matter of months, while others can take several years to complete. One of the biggest factors in determining the length of the claims process is whether or not the opposing party admits guilt.
If your doctor accepts blame, the case can be settled quite quickly. On the other hand, if he or she denies negligence, numerous court proceedings and appearances will need to be scheduled, thus drawing out the process.
We believe that negligent healthcare professionals need to be held accountable for their actions. After all, we trust them with our lives. Claiming compensation against those who provide inadequate care is not only fair to you, but it helps to increase the quality of our healthcare services. If you suspect NHS negligence caused your injuries, contact us immediately to discuss your options.