Is it possible to sue the NHS for negligence?
The simple answer is yes.
Can you sue the NHS?
A lot of people are put off making claims against the NHS as they think it might be daunting or difficult. It is neither of these things with the assistance of an experienced knowledgeable solicitor like we have here at Been Let Down.
There are a few important factors to consider before making a medical negligence claim. The most important thing is to establish whether your circumstances and the medical issue you’ve experienced are actual grounds for a negligence claim, or simply for a complaint.
The NHS has well established complaints procedures that are designed to resolve issues quickly and efficiently, and to identify faults in procedures and thereafter make recommendations to put them right. All NHS complaints are dealt with by the NHS Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS). PALS charter is not responsible for disciplining or dismissing medical practitioners, or for deciding upon or awarding compensation.
If your issue is more about being dissatisfied with general procedures and you are looking to highlight issues for improvement, then the PALS procedure is probably the best route for you.
However if you believe that you have suffered injury, pain or loss due to a specific act of a medical practitioner or the general level of care received, and you believe that you deserve compensation then you need to seek advice in respect of making a medical negligence claim.
Making your claim
In seeking to establish the validity of any medical negligence claim a solicitor will be looking to establish two key factors:
1. Was your Doctor, Nurse or medical team at fault to the extent that they did not provide a level of service and care equal to what would be expected of another professional in their field.
2. Did you suffer actual harm, injury or loss as a direct result of this lack of care.
This is sometimes called the Bolam test. It can sometimes be a tricky test to satisfy and a close examination of the facts will be necessary.
Your solicitor will help you gather evidence to establish whether the above conditions are met. If they think your case meets the above criteria, and that you have a reasonable chance of bringing a successful claim, then they may agree to take on your case on a ‘No Win, No Fee’ basis.
Time Limits to make a claim
One other thing to consider is the Limitation Act 1980. This is essentially a legal time limit which means that a claim must be commenced within 3 years of the injury or harm having occurred. There are exceptions to this rule and limitation is a complex area of law. You should take specific legal advice on this subject, which your solicitor will be able to provide.
How can I finance my claim?
The bad news is that legal aid funding for medical negligence was withdrawn as part of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, in all but a very limited number of cases involving specific injuries to children during pregnancy, birth and the initial post-natal period.
The good news is that there are medical negligence solicitors who take on cases on a ‘No Win No Fee’ basis.
These are also known as No Win No Fee agreements and mean you won’t have to pay any of your own solicitor’s legal costs if you lose your case, unless your case is deemed fraudulent, or you fail to comply with our reasonable requires to pursue the case. In return for the risk the solicitor takes in deferring their own costs, they can also charge a success fee which is deducted from your damages upon the successful conclusion of your claim. All success fees must be agreed between the claimant and the solicitor and the maximum success fee is capped at 25% of damages (subject to specific criteria). CFA’s are a very popular way to fund a claim as the financial risks of going to court can be huge.
There are also other financial considerations to be made that your solicitor should advise you of, such as whether you will need ATE Insurance. In some cases a claimant would actually be liable to pay the defendants costs in the event of an unsuccessful claim, and further you may also need protection to cover you for the cost of obtaining experts reports should you lose your case. ATE Insurance covers your costs in these circumstances, ensuring that you are not left in a difficult financial predicament.
Specialist medical negligence solicitors
At Been Let Down, we have a proven track record of many years of winning medical negligence claims for our clients. We will listen sensitively to the details of your circumstances, and advise on whether we think you have grounds for a claim with at least a reasonable chance of success.
If we determine that you do, then we will most likely offer to take on your claim on a No Win No Fee Basis. Just give us a call on our Freephone number or fill in our quick initial claim form on our website. All initial consultations are free and on a no obligation basis.
Contact us today
Contact us and let us help you get the compensation that you deserve.