The majority of people who receive care from the NHS have a generally positive experience. However, there are occasions where things go wrong and where service standards can drop below acceptable levels and patient safety becomes compromised. Such incidents are thankfully rare, but happen with sufficient frequency to mean that the NHS regularly faces claims for compensation running into millions of pounds each year following mistakes made by staff which result in patients becoming ill, sustaining a serious injury, seeing an existing condition worsen or in some cases even dying.
If you are one of the unfortunate few to have been affected by substandard NHS care, then it is important to know that you have the right to complain about this and to also seek compensation where you can show that the extent of the failings you experienced are sufficient enough to justify a claim for medical or clinical negligence. In general terms, this will be the case where you can show that the way you were treated falls below medically accepted standards and that the injury or harm you have suffered is directly attributable to this having happened. Notes on your records which refer to a ‘medical accident’ or to a ‘patient safety incident’ having occurred may be a sign that negligence has taken place, but this is not always the case so it is vital that you seek expert legal advice.
How we can help
At Step Legal Solicitors, we specialise in bringing NHS medical negligence claims and in helping the victims of medical malpractice to hold those responsible to account and to secure appropriate compensation. We understand how the NHS works and how to identify those claims that justify legal action being taken and those which are more suited for resolution via the NHS complaints procedure or a specialist compensation scheme, like the one set up by the government to help those diagnosed with HIV following treatment for haemophilia.
We have experience in pursuing claims against GP surgeries, NHS hospitals and NHS dental practices for a variety of negligent actions which have caused physical or psychological harm, including:
- delayed diagnosis or wrong diagnosis
- surgical errors or mistakes during a procedure;
- improperly ordered or dispensed medication;
- failure to obtain informed consent to treatment being undertaken; or
- failure to warn about the risks associated with a particular course of action.
Our expertise means that we can offer support not just where you have been personally affected by a medical mistake, but also where you believe that medical negligence has resulted in the death of someone your cared for and to whom you had a close bond.
To find out more about our NHS negligence claims service, please call us now on 0800 195 6412 and ask to speak to one of our specialist advisors. We offer a free initial consultation and may be able to take your case on under a no win, no fee agreement.
What your compensation payment might cover
Depending on whether you are claiming for yourself or a loved one who has sadly died, it might be possible for us to claim compensation on your behalf to cover:
- your pain and suffering, or bereavement;
- out of pocket expenses and financial losses;
- the cost of any ongoing treatment or therapy
- the cost of home or vehicle adaptions; and
- he cost of specialist mobility aids.
What does bringing a claim involve?
To launch a legal action for compensation we will first need to arrange an appointment with you to discuss what has happened and the impact this has had on your life. We will need to request access to your medical records, obtain a copy of any internal investigation report that may have been prepared, review the results of any autopsy or inquest that has been carried out where the alleged negligence has resulted in death and, where appropriate, arrange to have our own medical examinations undertaken and specialist reports prepared.
Once we have been through this process and established that a claim can be pursued, the next step will be to write to the NHS provider you allege to be at fault and to begin discussions with their insurer to determine whether negligence is admitted and to establish how much they are prepared to pay to avoid the need to take your claim to court. In most cases the insurer we will deal with will be NHS Resolution, previously known as the NHS Litigation Authority.
Where the amount of compensation offered is too low, or where liability for negligence is denied, then the final stage in the claims process will be to issue formal proceedings and to place the matter before a judge so that they can decide whether wrongdoing has occurred and if so what the level of your payout ought to be.
This may sound daunting, but it is worth pointing out that less than two per cent of the claims submitted to NHS Resolution end up being determined at court and therefore in the vast majority of cases it is usually possible to agree an out of court settlement or compromise.
How much compensation am I likely to receive?
The amount of compensation that you are entitled to will depend on a variety of things, including the severity of the injuries that have been sustained, the likelihood of you being able to recover, whether or not you will require ongoing care or treatment and what the financial implications will be for you and your family, for example where you can no longer work or where you have lost a vital source of income.
Awards can vary from a few thousand pounds to many millions of pounds.
Will my claim come out of the NHS budget?
Many people who come to see us for help are concerned that any compensation they are awarded will come out of the NHS budget and therefore impact the amount of money available to provide ongoing NHS services to others who may need it. This is an understandable worry, but the reality is that the cost of meeting medical negligence claims does not come out of the NHS budget and is instead met by an entirely separate fund operated in the main by NHS Resolution
Is there a time limit for bringing a claim?
To bring a medical negligence claim you will usually need to commence legal proceedings within three years of the allegedly negligent incident occurring or within three years of when you first realised that an injury or death may have been attributable to medical malpractice.
Where you are bringing a claim on behalf of a child under the age of 18, this three year time limit does not start to run until their 18 th birthday which means that a claim can be made at any time up until they turn 21.
Where you are bringing a claim on behalf of someone who lacks the mental capacity to bring the claim themselves, then the three year time limit does not begin to run until such time as they are no longer incapacitated and will never be triggered where recovery from incapacitation does not occur.
Why choose Step Legal?
Our lawyers specialise in medical negligence claims and have an impressive track record in securing generous compensation awards for the clients that they represent and more often than not without having to take the matter to trial at court.
When you come to see us, we will tell you straight whether we think the circumstances of your case are sufficient to justify a claim for compensation being launched and we will also ensure that you are immediately notified if our assessment of the strength of your position changes as your case progresses.
We will explain your options for seeking redress in plain English and will always ensure that you remain firmly in control of how your claim is handled.
Above all, when you entrust us to pursue a medical negligence claim on your behalf we will work hard to fight your corner and to secure you not just the compensation that you deserve, but also to obtain answers to any questions you may have and to get you and your family a much deserved apology.
To find out more about pursuing an NHS negligence claim with Step Legal, please call us now on 0800 1956412 to arrange a free, no obligation consultation. Alternatively, you can email us at email@example.com or pop into see us at our offices in Crewe.
We can assist wherever you are based in the UK and can even arrange to visit you at home to discuss your case if you have mobility issues and live in Cheshire or Staffordshire.
We also offer a free Polish translation service should you require it.