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What is medical negligence?

Whether it's caused by your GP or while being treated in hospital, medical negligence is where a medical professional fails in their duty of care to you. Specifically, it's a deviation from the accepted professional standards that causes you harm or makes a pre-existing condition worse. This usually happens because of incorrect action or a failure to act. Your right to make a medical negligence claim applies to all parts of the NHS and also to all private healthcare providers.

What are the main types of GP or hospital negligence?

Medical negligence can occur in any type of healthcare situation. The main types of GP negligence and hospital negligence include:

Did you know?

The top three care categories for medical negligence claims made against the NHS in 2018/19 were in emergency medicine (13%),  musculoskeletal orthopaedic surgery (12%) and obstetrics (10%). 

Source: NHS Resolution Annual Report and Accounts 2018/19 (page 43).

Can I make a no win no fee medical negligence claim?

Yes you can. It's very rare that a solicitor is unable to take on a GP negligence or hospital negligence claim on no win no fee terms. 

If they win your claim, you pay them from the compensation awarded to you.

If the claim fails, you pay nothing to anyone. Your no win no fee lawyer may need to arrange insurance for you to ensure claiming is risk-free. However, we guarantee you'll never be left out of pocket.

Only certain child cases may be eligible for Legal Aid. These are where hospital negligence involves serious neurological injury caused to an infant during pregnancy, at birth or within eight weeks of birth.

How is medical negligence compensation structured?

There are two parts to medical negligence compensation in a successful claim. 

General damages

This figure covers pain, suffering and impact the injury has had on your life. It's not just about physical harm. Medical negligence can be psychologically traumatic so general damages will also take into account any impacts on your mental health. 

Special damages

This figure includes any financial losses you've suffered. Such expenses consist of things like payments for extra treatment, travel costs and any modifications you may need for your home or car. Your solicitor will assess special damages in addition to general damages when building the case for your no win no fee medical negligence claim.

How often do medical negligence claims go to court?

The majority of medical negligence claims don't. NHS Resolution is the government body that oversees claims made against the NHS. 

Its figures for 2018/19 show that 70.7% of 15,655 claims were settled out of court. Only 29.3% of medical negligence claims settled over the same period needed formal court proceedings. You'll find a full breakdown of the figures on page 37 of the NHS Resolution annual report we link to above.

Call us on for a confidential chat with one of our legally-trained advisors. We'll help you establish who's at fault for your injury and whether you qualify to make a compensation claim.If you are eligible to make a claim and want to proceed, we'll put you in touch with one of our expert no win no fee solicitors. We work with a nationwide network of trusted personal injury law firms working to the highest ethical standards. Usually we can do this on the same call if that suits you.

Should I complain before making a GP or hospital negligence claim?

You don't need to make a complaint to the GP surgery or hospital concerned. Complaining will not prevent you from beginning the medical negligence claims process later on. 

However, complaining before claiming is often helpful. It'll help you find out more about what happened and may provide useful evidence for your solicitor if you decide to make a claim. 

Making a formal complaint about GP negligence or hospital negligence

  • Request a copy of the complaints procedure from the GP surgery or hospital that treated you. 
  • Follow the instructions to the letter so your complaint can be addressed quickly. 
  • Your right to complain and for it to be investigated is written into the NHS Constitution.
  • You also have the right to compensation if you've been harmed by negligent care.

While you can make a complaint locally, you can also go straight to the healthcare provider for your region of the UK. Procedures differ around the country, so find out more for the region where you were treated by using the links below. 

If you go ahead with an NHS medical negligence claim, your solicitor will make it through NHS Resolution. It's the insurance department of the NHS that handles all medical negligence claims. Find out more about making a claim against the NHS.

Meet the team

Natalie Maxwell

Natalie Maxwell

Head of Technical Claims

A seasoned solicitor, Natalie oversees all the personal injury claims we handle, focusing on positive outcomes and service excellence.

What are the time limits for making a GP negligence or hospital negligence claim?

You have three years for making your no win no fee claim from the act of negligence itself or from the diagnosis of the harm it caused - whichever came first. There are exceptions::

  • You can make a claim for a child anytime up to their 18th birthday. 
    • This is called being a ‘litigation friend' and is normally a parent, family relative, guardian or appointed official.
  • If  they reach 18 and no claim has yet been made, they then have three years until their 21st birthday to make it.
  • If the victim can't make the claim because of the medical negligence or an existing medical condition, there are no time limits

How long does a GP negligence or hospital negligence claim take?

Medical negligence claims are often complicated and will regularly take two or more years to conclude. Your no win no fee solicitor must show clear evidence of liability across four areas: duty of care, dereliction of duty, direct cause and damages. It's usually the case that the more complex a medical negligence claim is, the longer it will take to settle. 

How long the claim takes also depends on how the NHS or private healthcare provider responds. A prompt admission of liability will speed things up while disputed liability will slow things down. NHS claims usually conclude faster than those against private medical providers or professionals. This is because the NHS and private healthcare providers use professional indemnity and employer's liability insurance differently.  

How much compensation might I receive?

It's rare for any given GP negligence or hospital negligence claim to be the same. That makes it difficult to predict the amount of damages that could be awarded before your no win no fee solicitor has started work on your claim. The amount depends on the severity of the negligence, the duration and quality of your recovery and any financial losses you've experienced as a direct consequence.That having been said, we've got over 25 years' experience helping victims of accident and medical negligence. Try our compensation calculator. It's quick and easy to use and it'll give you a rough idea of what you might receive in a successful claim.

Contact us today

If you've suffered GP negligence or hospital negligence while being treated, we might be able to help you make a no win no fee compensation claim. 

Call us today on and tell us about your experience in complete confidence, in your own way and your own time. We'll be able to decide if you qualify and give you the free advice you need to make the decisions that are right for you.