What is Medical Negligence, and what is involved in making a claim?

What is clinical or medical negligence?

The healthcare system in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is predominately provided by the NHS. NHS care is usually very good and most people do not have any problems. However, things can go wrong and, when mistakes are made, they can be catastrophic and life changing. If a mistake is made by a healthcare practitioner, then you may be able to pursue a claim for Medical Negligence.

What is Medical Negligence?

Medical professionals have a duty of care to their patients and when this is breached it may be possible for you to claim compensation for medical negligence.

Medical negligence (also known as clinical negligence) is defined as a breach of a duty of care from a health professional that has resulted in harm and loss.

The majority of claims are pursued against the NHS but it is also possible to bring a medical negligence claim against private healthcare providers such as private hospitals, care homes, GPs and dentists.

The burden of proof falls on the person bringing the claim, the Claimant.  In order to have a successful claim the Claimant will need to prove all of the following to establish there has been a breach of duty and causative injury and loss:

  • The healthcare professional owed a duty of care to the claimant; and
  • There was a breach of that duty of care; and
  • The breach has caused avoidable harm to the claimant; and
  • Damages for injuries and other losses (such as loss of earnings) have resulted from the harm caused by the breach of care.

Importantly, the two basic principles of breach of duty and causation of injury and loss must be proved.  

Medical negligence can take a number of forms such as:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Incorrect treatment
  • Surgical mistakes
  • Prescribing inappropriate medication
  • Damage to a mother and /or a child before, during or after birth
  • Failing to provide treatment needed
  • Issues surrounding consent
  • Delays in the provision of appropriate treatment
  • Inquest Issues


The aim of a Medical Negligence case is to award compensation to put the injured party back in the position that they would have been in had the negligence not happened.

You can claim compensation for any injuries or losses suffered which were a direct result of negligent treatment you received.

This can include compensation or a payment in respect of the following:

  • Injuries including pain, suffering and loss of amenity
  • The cost of ongoing treatment
  • Compensation if you cannot carry out certain activities or hobbies
  • Past and future loss of earnings
  • The cost of any extra care or equipment needed now or in the future
  • The cost of adapting your home
  • Psychological injuries with or without physical damage.

Exploring your Options

We understand that the effects of medical negligence can be devastating and can have an enormous impact on the quality of life of all persons affected.

Sills & Betteridge Solicitors have a specialist Medical Negligence team with a wealth of experience and are fully committed to obtaining the best possible outcome for you. We are very approachable and will listen carefully to your concerns. Please contact one of our specialist for an informal discussion as we are more than happy to support and assist you through this process. Generally, you only have 3 years to pursue your claim from the date of the incident or date of knowledge if later. Therefore, it is always best to seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity.

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