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When Things Go Wrong - Problems with Healthcare in the UK

Most people using the National Health Service are happy with the treatment they and their loved ones receive. The health service employs doctors, nurses and other health professionals who work hard to treat everyone properly and promptly and their skill and dedication save many lives. But occasionally things go wrong, and when this happens, you may want to do something about it.

Meningitis Research Foundation’s helpline team can talk through many of your questions and concerns, and UK patient advocacy organisations like PALS try to ensure that NHS staff listen to patients, relatives, carers and friends so that issues can be resolved quickly.

If you have concerns about the standard of care and treatment that you or a member of your family has received, we hope the following information may be useful.

Meningitis Research Foundation cannot offer advice on complaints or proposed legal action, but we do believe our members should be properly informed.

We work closely with Law Society and AvMA approved clinical negligence specialist Solicitors, Clarke Willmott LLP
Every day more than a million patients are treated safely and successfully in the NHS. The health service employs doctors, nurses and other health professionals who work hard to treat everyone properly and promptly and their skill and dedication save many lives.

Most people in the UK would single out the NHS as the public service they value most highly, and patients regard it with respect. However, it is a vast and complex organisation, and patients and their families are often anxious, especially since being ill, or coping with the illness of a child or other loved one, can leave a person feeling vulnerable and distressed.

Even though most people using the NHS are happy with the treatment they receive, when things do go wrong with the care you, your child or other loved one is receiving, you may want to do something about it.

What if I need on the spot help when using the health service?



Health professionals working in the NHS are expected to listen to patients, respond to their questions, and explain about their illness and treatment to the best of their ability. Most of the time, they provide the right advice, treatment and care and you can talk to them directly. Meningitis Research Foundation helpline staff can also help you understand the illness and its potential consequences and answer general questions about treatment. But sometimes you may need to talk to someone employed especially to help you in your local NHS organisation. For people using NHS-run services (except GP services) in England, the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) (see Help with Complaints), can help with concerns or problems, and help to ensure that NHS staff listen to patients, answer their questions, and resolve any issues as quickly as possible.

If you have a problem with your GP, speak to them in the first instance. If you feel unable to do this, or it hasn’t worked, speak to the practice manager.

Different organisations have responsibility for patient advocacy in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (see Help with Complaints)

What if I want to make a complaint?



If you are unhappy with the service you or a loved one has received from a hospital, doctor, local surgery or any other NHS service, you have the right to complain, have your complaint investigated, and receive a full and prompt reply. You may be concerned about quality of care, or other things like unacceptable delays in treatment or lack of communication.

Complaining can be a useful process and may help you to understand why events occurred as they did. It is usually the best course of action if what you are seeking is an open explanation of what went wrong or an apology. Making a complaint can be beneficial to both parties, as it may provide answers or explanations for you as the complainant, and will highlight problem areas for the organisation that you are complaining about. This could allow steps to be taken to improve services for other users.

Raising your concerns should ideally help put things right quickly and the NHS can learn from your experience. This could include an explanation, an apology and information about how the hospital or surgery has used your experience to improve services or care.

Making an NHS complaint is a separate process to bringing a medical negligence claim although it can be an important first step if legal action is contemplated.

Why complain?

It is important to think about your objective before putting in your complaint. If you are mainly concerned about having something put right or registering a concern informally, it may be best to raise this directly with staff concerned or their managers, or you can ask to speak to a patient advocate such as PALS or their counterpart services in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland PALS or their counterpart services in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

How to complain


Every NHS organisation has a complaints procedure, but different organisations run their procedures differently, and procedures also differ depending on whether you are in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. However, the same basic stages apply across the UK.

For England: www.nhs.uk/choiceintheNHS/Rightsandpledges/complaints/Pages/NHScomplaints.aspx
For Northern Ireland: www.nidirect.gov.uk/index/do-it-online/health-and-well-being-online/make-a-complaint-against-the-health-service.htm
For Scotland: http://www.nhsnss.org/pages/contact/feedback_and_complaints.php
For Wales: www.wales.nhs.uk/ourservices/publicaccountability/puttingthingsright
If you want to make a formal complaint about an NHS service, ask the service for a copy of their complaints procedure which will explain what you need to do. Before complaining, make a note of the relevant events, dates, times, names and conversations to help you to remember all the details in the future. In England, Healthwatch provides a detailed interactive tool to take you through each step of the complaints procedure.

Timing

Time limits vary across the UK;
  • In England and Wales a complaint should be made within 12 months of the event, or of realising there was an issue you want to complain about.
  • In Northern Ireland and Scotland a complaint should be made within 6 months of the event or of realising there was an issue to complain about, but not longer than within 12 months after the event.
For further information, please download the complaints guide, A Guide to NHS Complaints .

Help with complaints



If you decide to make a complaint, there are organisations that will help and guide you through the process. In England these include the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS), Healthwatch, and NHS Complaints Advocacy services commissioned by Local Authorities. There are different patient advocacy organisations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Citizen’s Advice Bureau can also help. They provide the main patient advocacy service in Scotland but also provide help and information about NHS complaints across the UK.

You can consult specialist medical negligence solicitors for advice and assistance through the complaints procedure. However, in the UK outside England there are obstacles to progressing a complaint through the NHS complaints procedure if you are taking legal action.

England

Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS).
All NHS Trusts in England have a PALS department to provide information, advice and support to patients and their families. They can also help to raise your concerns informally. They can often help people resolve problems that might otherwise become unpleasant disputes. PALS officers are not independent: they are employed by NHS trusts to enable early resolution by listening to patients' concerns. Because they are part of the NHS trust, they often understand how things work in your hospital, know the doctors, managers and other staff, and therefore have an inside track for presenting your concerns.

PALS online is no longer operating, but see the PALS pages on NHS Choices or to find your nearest PALS office or by phoning NHS111. You can also find PALS offices in most hospitals.

If you want advice from someone independent from the organisation you are complaining about, PALS can signpost you to organisations that can help you to take things further.

Healthwatch England is a national independent champion for users of health and social care in England. It was set up to ensure that the experiences of consumers are considered by those who plan and run services. It supports a network 152 local Healthwatch organisations which gather evidence to identify and build a national picture of issues in health and social care, so that Healthwatch England can influence national policy to improve services.

Local Healthwatch signposts people to local health and social care services. In some areas, they can only give general advice and support on NHS complaints, while in others they can advocate for you when you make a formal complaint. Local Healthwatch organisations can request information from health and social care providers, who are legally obliged to respond. This could help you with a formal complaint. In some circumstances they may also be able to enter and inspect premises. If you have serious concerns about health services in a particular hospital or other facility, you can contact them.

NHS Complaints Advocacy services are now commissioned by Local Authorities in England; the Independent Complaints Advocacy Service (ICAS), which helped people with NHS complaints, was disbanded on 31 March 2013. In some areas, local Healthwatch is taking this on. In other areas, local authorities commission services individually, or collectively commission the service at a regional level.

The largest providers of these locally commissioned advocacy services are:

  • POhWER mainly for the East of England, and the Midlands
  • SEAP (Support Empower Advocate Promote) mainly for South East and South West England
  • the Carers Federation mainly for the North East, the North West and Yorkshire and Humberside.
  • Voicability mainly for London Boroughs
You can get details of your local NHS Complaints Advocacy service from your Local Authority or through PALS.

Scotland

Patient Advice and Support Service (PASS) is an independent service which provides free, confidential advice and support to patients, their carers and families about NHS healthcare. The service is provided by the Scottish Citizens Advice Bureau. PASS can explain the rights and responsibilities of patients and it advises and supports people who want to give feedback, raise concerns or make a complaint about treatment and care provided by the NHS in Scotland. It provides practical help with making a complaint, including writing letters, making phone calls and supporting people preparing for or attending meetings.

Wales

Patient Advocacy services are available through Community Health Councils across Wales. They aim to provide help and advice if you have problems with or complaints about NHS services or your NHS practitioner. They also help ensure that patient perspectives influence local health policies and plans, monitor the quality of NHS services from your point of view, and can give you information about access to the NHS.

Northern Ireland


The Patient and Client Council helps people who want to complain about any aspect of health and social care in Northern Ireland. They will tell you how to complain and who to complain to, help write letters of complaint, make telephone calls for you about your complaint, go with you to meetings about your complaint and make sure your concerns are heard and responded to. They also work with health and social care organisations to improve services as a result of your concerns.

The service is independent, confidential and free. They cannot investigate complaints, or offer medical or legal advice.

Stages of the complaints procedure



1. Local resolution is the first stage of the NHS complaints procedure. Most cases are resolved at this stage. It is best to make a formal complaint in writing. It you cannot, you can ask to talk to the complaints manager who should arrange for a written record of your complaint to be made and a copy provided for you. It is important to raise all the points you want to complain about at this stage as new issues cannot be introduced later as part of the same complaint.

Once a complaint has been made, you should receive an acknowledgement within three days. The organisation you have complained to must offer to contact you to discuss your complaint and arrange a plan to resolve your concerns with you. This could take the form of a meeting or written explanation. If you do attend a meeting it is advisable to ask for a written response to the meeting. They should also agree with you a time frame for resolving the issues and should keep you regularly updated as to progress.

If your complaint is upheld, the organisation may offer an apology, and undertake to improve services to prevent the same problem happening in the future. If you are not satisfied with the response to your complaint you can write another letter or phone to explain why you are not satisfied, or you can proceed to stage two and ask for an independent review by the Health Service Ombudsman.

2. Independent Review by the Health Service Ombudsman

You have the right to take your complaint to the Health Service Ombudsman, if you are not satisfied with the results of Local Resolution, or more than 6 months have elapsed since your complaint. You should complain to the Ombudsman within 12 months of the event or within 12 months of realising there was an issue you wanted to complain about, but the Ombudsman can extend this time limit if, for example, Local Resolution took longer than a year to conclude.

The Ombudsman will look at every complaint that comes to them and decide whether to investigate. They will not investigate every case. The Ombudsman can refer you back to the Local Resolution stage of the NHS Complaints Procedure if they think you have come to the Ombudsman too soon, or if they feel that the NHS organisation involved has not done all it can to resolve your issues locally. There is no appeal against the ombudsman’s decision.

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (England)
Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
Public Services Ombudsman for Wales
Northern Ireland Ombudsman

Judicial Review

It may be possible to challenge the Ombudsman’s decision on your complaint by taking court action called a judicial review. Judicial review is a procedure which allows a court of law to review a decision made by a public body. If you decide to seek a judicial review, you will need to consult a solicitor urgently.

Other options when things go wrong may include:


The General Medical Council (GMC) complaints procedure is only for dealing with concerns about a doctor’s fitness to practise. To go to the GMC, you would need strong evidence that a doctor deserves very severe punishment and should possibly be stopped from working as a doctor. It is an extremely serious and onerous process. The GMC only regulates doctors: other health professionals have their own regulatory bodies.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) regulates nurses and midwives and should be contacted directly if you are concerned that a nurse or midwife is not fit to practise.

If a complaint using the NHS complaints procedure identifies serious concerns about a health professional’s fitness to practice, their employer may refer the case to the GMC, NMC or other regulatory body.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) checks whether hospitals, GPs, and social services in England are meeting national standards by carrying out inspections. The CQC does not deal with individual complaints, but you can report your experience to them. This could result in action being taken against the care provider.

Download the Guide to NHS Complaints.

What if I want to make a legal claim for compensation?



To bring a claim for compensation, there has to be negligent treatment, and not just an undesirable outcome. Compensation is not available purely because you or your loved one was left with injuries or disabilities after the illness, or because the outcome of a medical procedure was not as expected. Medical treatment can go wrong and the outcome of meningitis or septicaemia can be terrible even when no one is at fault. Even if it is clear that healthcare was negligent, the failure in care must have caused or contributed to the injury or death of the patient for a claim to be successful.

Making a claim

To bring a successful clinical negligence claim you need to establish two things:

Firstly, that the duty of care which is owed to patients by all clinical practitioners has been breached. This means that you must show that the treatment provided fell below the standard expected of a reasonably skilled and competent practitioner in the relevant field. If the healthcare provider can show that a responsible body of practitioners would have acted in the same way, then the claim will fail.

Secondly, it must be shown that on the balance of probabilities (more likely than not) the breach of that duty of care either caused the injury or made it significantly worse.

If you feel that you or your child or loved one has been poorly treated by the health service, or you’ve made an official complaint to the NHS and are not happy with the outcome, you may decide to take legal action. It is very important to choose a solicitor with expertise in medical negligence (see The Importance of Specialist Solicitors)

There are only two approved lists of specialist clinical negligence solicitors: the clinical negligence panels administered by Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) and by The Law Society. Both panels include specialist solicitors operating in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. We would strongly recommend you contact a solicitor such as Clarke Willmott LLP which operates throughout England and Wales and has a number of approved solicitors on both panels. These panels are recognised by the Legal Aid Agency.

What is the time limit for making a claim?

For adults, a claim must be brought within 3 years of the negligent treatment. For children, the claim can be made anytime up to their 21st birthday, if event occurred when the child was under 18 years of age. In Scotland, the time limit is by the child’s 19th birthday if they were under 16 when the incident arose. The time limit for each case has to be looked at individually as there are exceptions to the rules where a person lacks the mental capacity to bring a claim.


For further information, please download the medical negligence guide.

Can I pursue a legal complaint through the NHS Complaints procedure and ask a solicitor to investigate a compensation claim at the same time?


Following changes to the law introduced in April 2009 you can now do this in England. The NHS service you are complaining about should seek to continue to resolve the complaint unless there are clear legal reasons not to do so, i.e. progressing the complaint might prejudice subsequent legal action. If that is the case the complaint will be put on hold, and this should be explained to you. However the default position if you have expressed an intention to take legal proceedings is to seek to continue to resolve the complaint unless there are clear legal reasons not to do so.

In Scotland you cannot pursue a complaint through the NHS complaints procedure if you are already taking legal action.

In Northern Ireland, you will not have access to the second stage of the complaints procedure involving an independent review by the ombudsman if you have already started to take legal action.

In Wales an NHS complaint cannot be taken forward if court proceedings have already been issued, and if court proceedings are issued when a complaint is already under investigation the investigation will be stopped.

This should not prevent you taking legal advice and keeping this as an option while taking a complaint to the NHS, but bear in mind the time limit for taking legal action.

Should I make a legal claim for compensation?



Only you can decide whether it's right for you to make a legal claim, but we hope that the information on these pages will help you understand the process and what some of the other options are as well.

Most people regard the NHS with respect and affection and often feel uncomfortable about bringing a claim against it. The process can be difficult and stressful, and some people find it too painful to have to continually think about what happened. For someone with many demands to cope with, perhaps due to the consequences of their illness or their child’s illness, a legal case can go on for a long time and take a good deal of energy.

However, if treatment has been negligent, and you or your family member has been injured or their condition or the outcome of their illness made worse as a result, then you are entitled to compensation. Taking action so that you/your child receives money they are entitled to can provide security and funds for treatments, therapy, surgery, equipment and care that will be needed in the future. Additionally, bringing a claim may help answer questions such as why the treatment went wrong and whether the injuries could have been avoided, and result in changes to practices which may prevent similar errors being made in the future (although these issues can also be addressed by making a complaint).

It is important to think it through carefully and MRF’s free helpline (080 8800 3344) is there for you if you’d like to talk about it.

Funding a claim



There are different ways to fund a clinical negligence claim, including public funding (“legal aid”), legal expense insurance, conditional fee agreements (“no win, no fee”) or private funding.

Public funding

From April 2013, the introduction of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act almost completely removed public funding for clinical negligence cases in England and Wales. It is now only available in very limited circumstances.

Legal Aid would still be available for a clinical negligence case where it is alleged that there was a failure to diagnose and/or treat meningitis and/or septicaemia only if:

  • The child is severely disabled and
  • The child suffered a neurological injury and
  • The negligence occurred within 8 weeks of the birth.

In other words only cases involving significant brain injuries in very young babies will still be covered.

In England and Wales, only solicitor firms with a Legal Aid Agency Franchise are able to apply for and act for a person under a public funding certificate. Franchises are only granted to firms with expertise in clinical negligence and membership of the specialist panels of the Law Society or Action for Victims of Medical Accidents (AvMA).

If a firm has a franchise, it means that they can assist clients who are financially eligible. You will need to contact a franchised solicitor to discuss whether you are eligible for public funding. When assessing a child’s financial eligibility for public funding, only the child’s means and resources are taken into account. In addition to financial eligibility, the Legal Aid Agency must be satisfied that there is good reason to investigate a claim.

As a general rule, it may be difficult to secure public funding for a clinical negligence claim if you have not already been through the NHS complaints procedure.

Scottish Legal Aid Board and the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission.

Trade Union Funding

If you are a member of a Trade Union, they may help fund your clinical negligence claim.

Legal expense insurance

Many people have Legal Expense Insurance (LEI) attached to one of their insurance policies, such as car or home insurance. Sometimes LEI will cover not only the policy holder but his or her family. Not all policies cover medical negligence cases and many policies have strict time limits on how promptly requests for assistance must be made. It is important to contact a solicitor as soon as possible so that you can apply for this funding.

Conditional fee agreement

If there is no LEI or public funding available, your solicitors may consider entering into a Conditional Fee Agreement (“no win, no fee”) which would cover their fees for investigating and pursuing your claim. This means that if the case is not successful they do not charge you for their fees. However, you may be responsible for the payment of some expenses such as expert fees, and court fees. Since April 2013 Solicitors are now entitled in some circumstances to receive a percentage of compensation recovered.

Private funding

If none of the options above are available, you could opt to pay privately for a solicitor to investigate your case. The solicitor should give you a clear estimate at the outset and agree with you limits for each stage of the case.

Whatever funding method you are using, it is a good idea to ask whether there is any possibility of being required to pay something during the case or at the end. Different firms offer different arrangements for the same funding method. Some firms expect clients to pay expenses during the case while others will fund these themselves. Some firms also deduct various fees and expenses from the compensation awarded if the claim is successful. If so, you are entitled to an estimate of those fees. All solicitors accredited by AvMA agree to be open and honest with potential clients from the start about charging policies and means of funding legal work in a way that clients can understand and is in their best interests.
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The Importance of Specialist Solicitors



Making a clinical negligence claim can be a daunting prospect. Contacting a solicitor is a big step and talking about your experience of medical care can bring back painful memories. Clinical negligence is a complex area of law and specialist expertise is essential. Patients usually only have one chance to investigate and pursue a claim so it is important to instruct specialists who will provide the expertise and level of service to ensure that the claim has the best possible outcome. It is not a good idea to consult the firm down the road or the family solicitor on this sort of case.

You should instruct a firm of solicitors which has proven expertise in this area, with individual solicitors who are members of the Law Society and/or AvMA (Action against Medical Accidents) specialist panels, the only two approved lists of specialist clinical negligence solicitors. The firm should be recognised by leading independent bodies such as Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession and the Legal 500. If legal aid is a possibility, then if in England and Wales, the firm should have a franchise with the Legal Aid Agency so that it is authorised to undertake publicly funded clinical negligence work.

A specialist solicitor will offer:

  • A free first interview
  • Straightforward advice on the prospects of success and an estimate of how long the process might take
  • Clear advice on how to fund the claim and how funding works
  • Information on advice from other professionals during your claim and after, for example on disability rights and benefits
  • Knowledge about clinical and rehabilitation needs and the best experts to instruct 
  • Advice, assistance and representation in relation to inquests
Once proceedings are underway, the process could take several years to complete, so it is important to find a specialist solicitor whose expertise you feel confident about from the outset. You are free to approach and make initial enquiries with more than one firm before deciding who you would like to represent you.

You are also free to change Solicitors after your claim has started. This is a simple process. With your permission your new Solicitors will contact your previous Solicitors to request transfer of your case. You do not need to speak to your previous Solicitors concerning transfer of your case.

How can I check whether or not a solicitor is a specialist?

You can search for clinical negligence specialists on either The Law Society or the AVMA website. Both websites enable you to search geographically to find a solicitor in your part of the UK. MRF is working with Clarke Willmott LLP one accredited specialist clinical negligence firm that covers England and Wales.

Compensation



Compensation, also known as ‘damages’ includes both ‘general damages’ which are to compensate you for pain, suffering and impact on quality of life (for example, not being able to take part in activities and loss of enjoyment) caused by the negligence, and 'special damages’ which are to compensate you for specific financial costs or future losses. Examples include loss of earnings, extra medical costs, the costs of equipment needed for living with disabilities, increased accommodation costs, travel expenses, and costs for care and assistance.

Your specialist solicitor will assemble a team of experts to help understand the injury and the level of compensation that should be awarded. Experts may include surgeons, neuropsychologists, nursing care experts, educational experts, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, prosthetists, physiotherapists, and accountants.

In cases where someone has died, the family will be able to claim damages for pain and suffering and loss of amenity prior to death and certain expenses, including funeral costs, can be claimed back. A fixed bereavement award is available to the surviving spouse of the person who died or to parents of a child who died before reaching the age of majority (18 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, 16 in Scotland). Dependants of the deceased may also be able to claim in respect of loss of dependency.
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Frequently Asked Questions


What is the difference between 'medical negligence' and 'clinical negligence'?

They mean exactly the same thing: when injury or death is caused or contributed to by a failure in the duty of care during medical, nursing or other clinical consultation or treatment.

Will bringing a claim affect medical care? Will I be struck off my doctor’s list?


No. Pursuing a compensation claim should not affect the medical care offered and you will not be struck off your GP’s surgery list. If this sort of thing were to happen, you should complain to the surgery and NHS England, alert your local Healthwatch, and get help from an independent advocate.

Can I bring a claim on behalf of my child?

Yes. Any child under 18 must have an adult representative, usually their parent, known as their "litigation friend". The solicitors acting for your child will take instructions from the Litigation Friend and correspond with them, not the child. The litigation friend must make all the necessary decisions in relation to the case, and act in the child's best interests. In a claim on behalf of a child, the Court must approve any out-of-court settlement that is reached.

This also applies to disabled adults deemed a ‘protected party’ under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. They too will require a litigation friend to conduct their claim for them.

How do I win a claim?

All clinical practitioners, including doctors, nurses, and physiotherapists, owe their patients a duty of care. To bring a successful clinical negligence claim you need to show that firstly there was a breach of that duty of care and, secondly, that as a result you, or your child or loved were injured (or died) or the outcome of the illness was made worse. You must show that the treatment provided fell below the standard expected of a reasonable competent practitioner in the relevant field.

Your solicitor will seek a supportive opinion from an independent medical expert on your case. The expert will base their opinion on your medical records, your statement about what has happened to you or your child or loved one, along with any other information supporting your case. If your solicitor cannot obtain a supportive report from an independent expert, then your case will not succeed.

What if a solicitor won't take my case?

It makes no sense for a solicitor to take on a case which is unlikely to succeed. Screening cases to identify which ones are likely to succeed is an essential step before investing in the time, effort and expense of a legal case. If a solicitor turns down your case, ask why and make sure you get a detailed answer. If you are not satisfied, you might want to seek further opinions: possibly the solicitor you have chosen is just not capable of handling your case. However, even if the care you received was negligent or sub-standard, it may be that legal action is not a realistic option. Other options may be open to you. You can ask your solicitor or PALS or an independent complaints advocate or AvMA (see Help with Complaints) about what else you can do to get an explanation or an apology for what went wrong, or to improve care at your hospital or surgery for others in the future.

How long will a claim take?

This depends on many things, including the nature of the injury, the complexity of the case and case notes, the number of medical specialties involved, and whether the healthcare provider admits liability early on or not. As a general guide the whole claims process can take between 2 and 5 years to complete. Cases involving very young children with significant injury may not be fully resolved until the child is old enough for their long-term prognosis to be known. This can take longer than 5 years as time is needed to allow the child to develop. However, once the liability (fault) part of the matter is resolved, payments can be obtained from the Defendant to meet the child’s ongoing needs, such as professional care, specialist aids/equipment or suitably adapted accommodation, until the full extent of these needs can be determined.

Will I have to give evidence in court?

Clinical negligence claims rarely end up in Court. Both sides are encouraged to settle the matter quickly to avoid incurring extra costs. The vast majority of claims are settled before legal proceedings are issued, and before a trial commences.

What happens if I win my case?

If you are successful then the Defendant will pay the compensation and all your reasonable legal costs. In some instances they may offer an apology as well.

What happens to the compensation for a child?

First, the Court will approve any settlement or award of compensation. Once approved, your child’s money will be paid into the Court and managed and invested on your child’s behalf. Cases concerning those under 18 and those who lack mental capacity are managed by the Court of Protection. As a general rule, a child of full mental capacity will not be allowed control of their compensation until they are 18 years old. However, the Court will release money to be used to meet your child’s needs up to the age of 18, with the balance paid to your child thereafter.

Can I make a claim on behalf of someone who died if I think their death was due to negligent medical treatment?

Yes, claims for bereavement damages (compensation for the loss of a loved one) can be made only by the spouse of the person who died, or his or her parents, if it was a child who died. It may also be possible to claim for loss of financial support from the person who died. These dependency claims can be made by children, siblings, and common-law partners (if co-habitation for 2 years plus can be proved), as well as parents and spouses, but only if they can show that they were financially dependent on the person who died.

Clarke Willmott


MRF is happy to be working with Clarke Willmott LLP. Clarke Willmott LLP has offices in Bristol, Taunton, Southampton, Birmingham, Manchester and London and covers all of England and Wales.

Clarke Willmott LLP employs individual solicitors who are members of the Law Society and AvMA (Action against Medical Accidents) specialist panels, the only two approved lists of specialist clinical negligence solicitors. The firm has a Legal Aid Agency Clinical Negligence Franchise, so if your case is eligible for legal aid they will be able to pursue it. They are highly rated by leading independent bodies such as Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession and the Legal 500.

In addition Clarke Willmott LLP have a specialist Court of Protection Department and Health and Social Care Law Team who can provide support and advice in relation to the provision of services provided by the NHS and local authorities.

You can contact them via the Clarke Willmott LLP website or 0800 316 8892 (Freephone).