When the NHS harms rather than heals

When you go into the health centre or clinic, the thought of medical negligence is likely far from your first thought. However, it does happen.

NHS Resolution – the body responsible for managing claims against the NHS – confirmed in its ‘Annual report and accounts 2018/19’ that in that time period, it received 10,678 new medical negligence claims.

Suffering from negligence

There are many opportunities during the medical treatment process that negligence could happen. From your initial consultation and diagnosis to a potential surgery or being prescribed certain medications, you’ll face a number of steps where something could go wrong. You may have suffered from a delayed diagnosis, leading to an unnecessarily worsened condition, or had an implement left inside you during an operation.

If something has gone so wrong that it should not have happened under any circumstances, the NHS refers to it as a ‘never event’. It defines never events as “serious incidents that are entirely preventable”. This is because guidance or recommendations providing barriers to such events are available and should have been implemented by every healthcare provider.

So if such an incident happens to you, you may need to know how to sue the NHS.

How to obtain justice

When an NHS healthcare provider has acted negligently, causing you harm, you have the right to justice. And you can achieve this by pursuing a legal claim. Although you may have hesitations or concerns about taking action against the NHS, you have the right to do so.

You are entitled to have any resulting healthcare problems addressed. After all, you may have suffered from a life-changing incident or lifelong health complications after your experience of negligence.

If you receive negligent care, there is nothing to stop it happening from anyone else in the future. This means that taking action against the NHS could actually benefit it in the long term. Your claim will prompt the service to take a serious look at what went wrong in your case. This will give them the opportunity to address the problem and help ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Taking legal action

Once you decide you want to pursue legal action, you should collect your evidence. This will include medical records and reports, as well as the details of any healthcare providers or relevant individuals. Don’t forget to record the dates and time you were seen and treated. When it comes to medical claims, it is up to you to prove that negligence caused your injuries. This makes evidence highly valuable.

After that, you can lodge a formal complaint to the trust that treated you. Although a complaint is not a legal claim, it can help strengthen your case when you do go ahead with the claim.

You should then find the best solicitor to take your case forward. They will help you draft your letter of claim, outlining your case and explaining to the NHS what it did wrong in your case. The NHS can then either accept or reject liability. In either case, your solicitor will work to reach the best conclusion for you.

A legal claim against the NHS can help to secure your future if you have suffered serious injuries as a result of medical negligence. You may end up with a great deal of expenses to cover – from treatment to help your recovery to any modifications to your home or mobility aids to make you more comfortable. This means that any compensation you’re awarded will help get you back on your feet after a truly distressing experience.

Image copyright: Dmitrii Shironosov