A Guide to Hospital NHS Negligence Claims

We specialise in helping victims of medical negligence claim the compensation they deserve

Find out how much your claim could be worth now

NHS Negligence Claims Solicitors / Sue The NHS

The NHS leads the world in public healthcare. The valuable resource is the oldest system of its kind anywhere in the world, and one that other countries have sought to emulate. Given the many millions of sessions of treatment the NHS provides every year – babies delivered, operations, consultations, tooth extractions and physical therapy sessions – it is impressive to know that most patients receive a high standard of care. Unfortunately, mistakes happen, and when they do, The Medical Negligence Experts are here to help you launch successful claims against the NHS.

The NHS was created to provide an excellent standard of health care to everyone, not only those who can afford it. When you sprain your ankle, need a prescription, have to have a cavity filled, or find yourself suffering from a life-threatening illness, the NHS is there. People trust it to take care of them from conception to death, but a growing population and budget constraints have stretched it further than it can comfortably go. It is not fair that you should have to suffer physically or financially because of someone else’s error. If you’ve experienced illness, injury or bereavement due to negligence and wish to file claims against the NHS, then contact The Medical Negligence Experts today to speak to an expert NHS negligence solicitor.

NHS Negligence

NHS Negligence is a specific type of medical negligence. It arises whenever a patient receives an unacceptable level of care.

Most treatments come with some degree of risk. When your care provider fails to take every reasonable step to avoid these risks and you are harmed, you may be eligible for suing the NHS for medical negligence. The treatment does not have to be supplied by a doctor or surgeon. Acts or omissions by nurses, physiotherapists, radiologists, dieticians, pharmacists, lab technicians and even porters can also give rise to NHS negligence claims if they did not conform to the required standard.

There is such a large volume of claims made for NHS negligence that they have their own in-house legal department to handle them, called the NHS Litigation Authority.

The majority of clients we represent are those who are claiming NHS compensation for negligence. It is a field that lawyers at The Medical Negligence Experts are particularly skilled in, and we have an excellent track record in obtaining successful claims against the NHS.

You must meet the following criteria for your claim to be considered:

  • The doctor or caregiver acted in a way which was below what is considered an acceptable professional standard. This is determined by looking at your experience and whether the actions taken by your doctor or health professional would be supported by a reasonable body of clinical opinion. The test is called the Bolam principle, and it verifies whether your care provider “acted in accordance with a practice accepted as proper by a responsible body of medical men skilled in that particular art.”
  • Your injury or illness needs to be directly linked to the failure of your health professional to uphold their duty of care. If there is a strong probability that you would have been injured even if the health professional had acted correctly, then these claims against the NHS are unlikely to be successful.

An example of this second point relates to an example claim of delayed diagnosis. A compensation claim was made against a GP who failed to refer a patient for tests even though he was showing obvious symptoms of early prostate cancer. The doctor accepted their mistake but argued that the patient’s cancer would have progressed regardless of their negligence. The patient’s lawyers obtained independent medical evidence to support his belief that his cancer treatment would not have been as invasive and debilitating had his cancer been diagnosed sooner. His claim was upheld, and he was awarded a five-figure settlement in recognition of the pain his more aggressive treatment caused, and financial loss due to him requiring additional time away from work.

How do I know if I have an NHS negligence claim?

The NHS complaints procedure is designed to give you an explanation, not financial compensation. If you have suffered actual harm in an NHS hospital, then you are entitled to make claims against the NHS in order to receive compensation for your injuries.

A claim may be brought against the NHS institution if:

  1. The staff did something, or failed to do something, that fell short of the required quality standard (negligence); and
  2. The mistake caused you physical or psychological harm (causation.)

“Harm” is broadly defined. It arises whenever a clinician causes you a direct physical injury, for example, by leaving surgical instruments inside your body. It also arises whenever your illness or condition is worsened by the clinician’s mistakes.

Common duty breaches that cause harm to NHS patients include:

  • Surgical error
  • Failure to diagnose critical conditions such as strokes, heart attacks, and brain haemorrhage
  • Anaesthetic errors
  • Prescribing or administering the wrong medicine or the wrong dosage
  • Infections such as MRSA
  • Malnourishment or dehydration
  • Failure to warn of the risks of treatment
  • Lab mistakes, such as delayed, false or missing test results that can delay a course of treatment
  • Misdiagnosis or failure to treat
  • Negligent delay in treatment
  • Failure to monitor oxygen or fluid levels
  • Negligent personal care which can lead to wound infections or pressure sores.

What can you do if you think the NHS is not meeting the required standard?

If you experience substandard care and medical negligence NHS, then you have various options open to you. The first step is to tell the management of the hospital. Often, it is enough that the victimised patient receives an apology and an assurance that other patients will not be subjected to the same poor treatment.

If your concerns are not resolved straight away, you can go through the formal NHS complaints process. Under the NHS constitution, all patients have the right to make a complaint, seek compensation from NHS, and to then have it thoroughly investigated. Your solicitor can guide you through the formal complaints procedures; details are available at NHS choices.

If you are not satisfied with the way your complaint is being handled, you can take it to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

You don’t have to use the official complaints procedure before starting a legal claim, but it is usually wise to do so. Lodging an official complaint forces the relevant NHS Trust to clarify the circumstances surrounding your treatment and establish whether there is any liability. This information can help your solicitor decide whether it would be in your best interests to pursue a legal claim.

NHS Complaints and NHS Compensation

Our clients pursue compensation from NHS not only because they deserve to have their expenses caused by negligence covered but to also have their injury recognised and acknowledged – by those responsible.

Claims made against the NHS for negligent care are always handled by the NHS Litigation Authority, and we are very familiar with their processes. The NHS estimates that 98% of claims are settled outside of court, meaning you are highly unlikely to have the stress of a court case.

If you feel you have received inadequate treatment but there are no grounds to claim, then we will be able to advise on making a formal complaint and then decide whether you have grounds for suing the NHS for medical negligence or not.

The NHS has an extremely well-defined and robust system for patients who want to complain about their poor standard of care. Raising a complaint is different to raising claims against the NHS. Every NHS organisation has to have a clearly defined complaints procedure. You can obtain a copy of this by asking them for it in person, over the phone or by email. Some NHS trusts also have their policy published on their website.

An NHS complaint:

  • Can be raised with your care provider in writing or verbally. If you do not feel comfortable doing this directly, you can submit your complaint to the NHS commissioning body.
  • Needs to be raised within 12 months of the date of the event, or 12 months of the date you became aware of it.
  • Does not give you any compensation.
  • Can provide you with answers and information that will help support a claim for damages.

You do not need a lawyer to make a complaint. If you are unsure about what to do or how to proceed, or you want independent support, get in touch with the Citizens Advice Bureau, the Patient Advice and Liaison Services (PALS) or the Independent Health Advocacy Service.

An NHS compensation claim:

  • Needs to prove you received a substandard of care and that this directly led to your injury.
  • Is typically done with the support of a specialist medical negligence solicitor who can help you gather evidence and create a strong claim.
  • Must be raised within three years of the date of the negligence, or three years from when your injury was linked to your negligent care.
  • Will award you a payment of money, if successful.
  • Will not lead to an apology or assurance that actions will be taken to prevent your experience happening to someone else.
  • Is final. Once you accept the payment, you agree not to pursue further action or compensation, even if it turns out that your injury was worse than initially believed.

What is the process for making NHS negligence claims?

Claims of medical negligence NHS are difficult ones to prove, and you will need expert advice to work out whether you have a case. So, if you are thinking about claiming compensation from NHS, the first step is to appoint a solicitor who specialises in clinical negligence cases.

The solicitor will look at your case to decide if it is strong enough for them to take it on. You will need to give your solicitor as much information as possible. It will help if you keep a written record of the treatment you received, the complaints you made, and any paperwork associated with your hospital stay.

The solicitor should be able to tell you if you have means for making successful claims against the NHS and give you an idea of how much compensation you might receive.

How do you prove liability in NHS negligence claims?

The duty will be on you, the injured patient, to prove that the NHS was negligent and that its actions caused you harm. Since your claims against the NHS concern treatment, the most significant evidence will be reports from medical experts who have specialist knowledge in the relevant field of medicine or nursing care. Sometimes it is possible for one expert to deal with the various aspects of your injury. Often, two or more reports are required from different experts.

The reports will be used to establish both negligence and causation. Once these investigations have been carried out, your solicitor will be able to advise you with much more certainty whether your claim is likely to be successful.

How much do NHS negligence claims pay out?

The amount of compensation you receive for the pain and suffering associated with your injury depends on a variety of factors. These include:

  • The type and location of the injury
  • The seriousness of the injury, for example, whether it will heal on its own or whether surgery is required
  • The impact the injury has on your ability to work and your lifestyle
  • Your age
  • How long it will take you to recover
  • Likely complications arising from your injury in the future.

The medical expert appointed in your case will describe the nature and extent of your injuries and the prognosis for your recovery in a document called a “condition and prognosis report.” This report will be used as a starting point for settlement negotiations.

On occasion, the medical expert may not be able to give a final prognosis and may recommend further treatment first. It is better to wait until the treatment is concluded before settling your compensation claims against the NHS. That’s because NHS negligence claims are settled on a “full and final” basis. It is not possible to ask for more money if your injury turns out to be worse than expected, so you should always enter negotiations armed with all the medical facts.

In addition to “general damages” for pain and suffering, you may claim for the out-of-pocket expenses associated with the injury. This includes medical costs, travel costs, lost wages and overtime.

You will need to prove your financial losses, so it is important to keep receipts for any items purchased, taxi fares, wage slips and tax returns.

What if I have been injured by an NHS “Never Event?”

Around six patients a week are affected by so-called “Never Events” – wholly preventable incidents that should not have happened if NHS staff had followed specific guidance or safety recommendations. The Never Event list is regularly updated by the NHS and currently includes areas such as:

  • Wrong site surgery where surgery is carried out on the wrong body part or even the wrong patient
  • Retaining foreign bodies in the patient post-operation
  • Failing to monitor oxygen levels
  • Administering chemotherapy drugs via the wrong route
  • Death from postpartum haemorrhage after an elective caesarean

Since the NHS would find it very difficult to defend a Never Event, it is highly likely that the NHS trust would concede liability if you suffered such an incident.

However, even if a breach of duty is admitted, you must still prove causation in order to be successful in suing the NHS for medical negligence. This is where the specialist knowledge of an expert medical negligence solicitor can assist.

NHS Claims FAQ

We are happy to give you a free, no obligation consultation to answer any questions you may have about your entitlement to claim or the process for doing so. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive. If the answer to your question isn’t here just give us a call or fill in our online form and one of our expert legal advisors can help.

Do I have the right to claim compensation against the NHS / sue the NHS?

If you have endured an unacceptable standard of care and been injured as a result, you may be entitled to claim compensation from NHS. It is not enough that you received negligent care if your health was not adversely affected, nor is it sufficient to be injured if you are unable to prove it was directly linked to negligence.

Is there a time limit for suing the NHS?

An NHS claim must be raised within three years of the event or, if you were under 18 at the time, by your 21st birthday. Expert legal advice is always to talk to a solicitor with experience in suing the NHS for medical negligence at the earliest opportunity, even if you are still physically recovering. We can help you access the rehabilitative support you need and can potentially secure an interim payment if the other party acknowledges liability, but your claim is taking a long time to process, and you need urgent financial support.

How long will suing the NHS take?

The processing time of your request will depend on whether the other party accepts responsibility and the nature and healing time of your injury. As a general rule, claims relating to life-changing injuries, or those where it can take time to determine the long-term prognosis and lasting impact on the victim’s life, take longer than claims where a patient can recover quickly.

Who do I sue?

Since the treatment you received was provided by the NHS, you will be suing the trust responsible.

Some parts of the timeline are legally defined. For example, the defendant has up to four months to perform their investigation and respond to your application for compensation, acknowledging or denying liability.

How much compensation will I receive?

As with the processing time, your payment amount will depend on the nature of your injury and how it has affected your life. Compensation is divided into two amounts. One figure takes into account your pain and suffering. There are guidelines set out by the Judicial College which are regularly updated and used as industry standard guidelines for determining payment amounts. The other figure recognises any expenses you have incurred as the result of your injury that you would otherwise not have had to pay had you not been hurt.

Can I afford to make an NHS claim / sue the NHS?

Hiring a lawyer privately can be expensive. At The Medical Negligence Experts, we believe quality legal support should be accessible to everyone who needs it. All our solicitors can represent clients on a No Win No Fee* basis. This conditional fee agreement means that you do not have to pay any money up front. If your claim is successful, your legal fees will be paid by the other party, and you will pay us a success fee, which is a percentage of your compensation agreed at the start of the process. If your claims against the NHS are unsuccessful then you do not pay us a penny in legal costs and an insurance policy – either one you already have or an After the Event police we can advise on – will pay the other party’s legal fees.

A No Win No Fee* NHS claim lets you afford to apply for compensation from NHS without the financial risk of your request failing. It also gives you the reassurance that your lawyer will do all they can to ensure your claim is a success because their payment depends on the outcome.

Will I have to go to court?

It is highly unlikely you will need to go to court. The vast majority of compensation claims against the NHS (98%) are resolved out of court. Of the remaining 2%, some are closed because there are not legitimate grounds to claim, leaving you with a slender 1% likelihood of going to court.

We appreciate the prospect of going to court can be stressful. We work hard to negotiate an out of court settlement on your behalf and will only advise litigation if the other party refuses to accept responsibility, but we can prove it, or if you can’t reach agreement on a fair and reasonable compensation payment. If your claim does go to court, you can feel confident knowing that your legal team will be with you all the way, supporting and advising you to reach the best possible outcome.

What about the NHS Litigation Authority?

Dissatisfied patients not wishing to pursue a compensation claim can also approach the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA). This independent mediation service, launched in 2014, can help patients and clinicians resolve disputes fairly and help the NHS learn from their mistakes.

Using the NHSLA does not prevent you from making a legal claim if you are unhappy with the outcome.

How Can We Help?

In order to make successful claims against the NHS, you must be able to demonstrate that you have suffered an injury and that this injury was the direct result of negligent care provided by the NHS. Proving medical negligence NHS and damage is a long and complicated process and where having experienced lawyers like The Medical Negligence Experts on your team will help.

Making claims against the NHS can be stressful and time consuming, so it is important to get support from the right legal firm. Here at The Medical Negligence Experts, our panel of solicitors only deal with claims against the medical profession and can be trusted to give you the advice and support you need.

Contact The Medical Negligence Experts today and let us assist you in winning your NHS compensation.


  • No Win No Fee*
  • Maximum Compensation
  • Speedy Response

Need some help?

Am I eligible?

We offer a No Win No Fee* service on all our claims - We assess each claim on its merits with the information provided, which aids us to determine its likely success rate. This takes the risk away from you.

Find Out More

How much could I claim?

As every medical case is different, the amount of compensation paid out can differ. Varying factors lead to the final figure include: Level of negligence, earnings missed out on, future losses and more.

Our experienced team of experts will give you an indication of how much you could potentially claim.

Find Out More

How does the process work?

We understand that when making a claim it’s important to know what to expect and when to expect it. That’s why we make the process as transparent as possible.

Your solicitor will gather all the evidence and will notify the negligent party of your claim against them. With your dedicated solicitor negotiating on your behalf, you will be kept up to date every step of the way.

Find Out More

Why should you use us?

No Win No Fee

We offer a No Win No Fee* service on all our claims - We assess each claim on its merits with the information provided, which aids us to determine its likely success rate. This takes the risk away from you.

Expert Solicitors

Our experienced solicitors are experts in securing compensation no matter the level of negligence.
We are committed to securing the best possible outcome for you, while providing friendly support every step of the way.

Personal Dedicated Solicitors

On contact, you will be allocated your own expert Medical Negligence solicitor who will be there every step of the way. You will be provided with a direct phone number and direct email address of your solicitor.

Expert hospital nhs negligence solicitors working for you

We specialise in helping victims of medical negligence claim the compensation they deserve.

We work on a No Win No Fee basis, meaning if we don’t win your case, you don’t pay! Once you make contact, your experienced solicitor will work to recover the maximum compensation you are entitled to.

Whether you are ready to make a medical negligence claim, or you would just like a free conversation with a legal professional, we have experts on hand to give you all the information you need. Take the first step to getting what you deserve by filling in our quick contact form and we will call you back whenever suits you.

  • No Win No Fee*
  • Maximum Compensation
  • Speedy Response