Although the NHS is a British institution that is well-respected around the world, occasionally, things can go wrong. If you have suffered any form of injury as the direct result of medical treatment, you are entitled to make a legal claim for some form of compensation. That compensation can also be claimed if you are related to someone who has died due to medical negligence, or if you are related to someone who is unable to make their own claim due to incapacity. The NHS does have a complaints procedure in place that you should look at before you begin the process of legal action, but always make use of specialist legal professionals as soon as possible when making a claim.
Before you begin
It’s essential that you consider the potential outcome of your NHS compensation claims. There are elements that you may be hoping for that the courts are unable to enforce. These can include the disciplining of a healthcare professional, forcing change in the working practises and procedures of a hospital or clinic, or making a Doctor or Nurse apologise to you. Legal action can be expensive, so always know exactly what you hope to achieve from your compensation claim before you proceed.
The NHS Litigation Authority
This is the body that will be representing the NHS if you do make a claim against them. The NHS Litigation Authority (NHS LA) handles less than 2% of those cases that end up in court, with the remaining 98% of cases usually settled out of court, or being dropped by the person making a claim.
Schemes for Compensation
Some NHS compensation claims can be placed under the remit of a set scheme that is already in place. Examples can include those patients who have contracted HIV during haemophilia treatments, or those that have suffered result from incorrect vaccinations, and are an indication of the types of scheme that may be available. Compensation schemes are usually in place to tackle issues where you are unlikely to be the only claimant so that it speeds up the compensation process.
Assessing medical negligence
You will need to ascertain your reasons for making a case for NHS claims. These cases are usually judged on the negligence factor. Determining if you have suffered due to negligence will play a major factor in your fight for compensation, and can be summarised by the following issues:
- Incorrect diagnosis
- Mistakes made during operations and procedures
- Incorrect medicines given
- Non-consent before treatment
- Non-advising of potential risks
You will only be able to claim for compensation if you can show legally that you received care that fell below medically acceptable standards, and that the care you received has caused your reduced quality of life.
What will compensation cover?
If you have suffered from losses or injuries as a direct result of medical negligence, then your NHS compensation amounts will be factored to include:
- Any payments for the ongoing treatments that are due to the negligence
- Ongoing pain treatment costs
- Financial compensation if your quality of life now excludes activities and hobbies
- The loss of earnings caused by negligent procedures
- Covering the costs of any additional care and equipment that you may incur
- Home transformations to accommodate your changing circumstances
- Damages to cover psychological damage
It is essential that you make your claim for compensation as early as possible after the incident. Legally, you have three years from that date to make your claim, although children who have suffered from medical negligence will be able to make their own claim when they are 18. Clinical negligence can be very complicated, and the sooner that you seek legal advice from NHS negligence solicitors, the better.