With clinical negligence claims stemming from incidents in 2019/20 expected to cost the NHS £8.3bn, new guidance called ‘Learning from Litigation Claims’ has been issued to help NHS Trust clinicians, managers and legal teams learn from NHS-related complaints, accidents and Inquests. Contributors include solicitors from firms of solicitors who represent NHS Trusts in clinical negligence claims and officials from Trusts.

This new guide to best practice has been designed by the “Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT)” programme and NHS Resolution and is intended to help NHS Trusts learn lessons from clinical negligence claims, avoid repeating clinical errors and improve patient safety.

Richard Blair, a Clinical Negligence Solicitor at WBW Solicitors in Paignton, explains the options open to a Claimant or the Claimant’s family if he or she is injured as a result of a medical accident.

What is a clinical negligence claim?

Clinical negligence arises when as a result of an act of negligence, a medical professional – or team of professionals – breaches the legal duty of care it owes the patient.

Clinical negligence can take many different forms. These include – but this is far from an exhaustive list – the misdiagnosis of a medical condition, avoidable delay in making the diagnosis, the misinterpretation of the results of medical tests and other forms of examination, errors during surgery and treatment and errors in the prescription of drugs and other medicines.

If you believe that a medical professional failed to deliver an effective quality of care in a timely manner, and your condition worsened as a result, there are a number of courses of action you might decide to take.

First you could submit a formal complaint whether to a GP, a dentist, a private surgeon or an NHS Trust. The complaint may have to be redirected to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

In rare cases it is appropriate to submit a complaint about an individual whether to the General Medical Council or another professional body.

You may want to explore whether you have a case to claim compensation. A successful claim can only be made by proving clinical negligence with the help and support of medical evidence and also proving that negligence caused injury and financial loss.

A specialist clinical injury solicitor can advise you on the merits of your case and guide you through the whole process.

The amount of compensation you receive will depend on the extent to which negligence has caused injury and financial loss. Just because a doctor acts negligently it does not automatically follow that it made the patient’s condition worse or caused him or her to suffer financial loss.

You may be entitled to claim the cost of ongoing care needs as well as the private cost of further treatment, loss of earnings past and future and loss of pension entitlement.

How will the guidance help patients?

The new guidance aims to remind Trusts and clinicians what can be learned from past mistakes and the litigation they generate. This should benefit patients and help the NHS. The fewer the number of claims the less the costs they generate. It encourages clinicians to work alongside legal teams in the claims management process and includes practical steps to help improve claims management. One hopes it will build upon the need for openness and transparency. It is intended to assist Trust legal teams, make clinicians more aware of the claims process, and allow patients, their families and carers to become more involved in the investigation of complaints and claims.

The hope is that these steps will reduce the incidence of future medical mistakes and accidents.

For more information in connection with a clinical negligence case, or other personal injury issues, please contact Richard Blair at WBW Solicitors in Paignton on 01803 546134 or email richardblair@wbw.co.uk.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.