Medical Negligence – Can you Claim?

Richard gregory portrait.

Richard Gregory

Consultant Solicitor

Phone 01264 353411


The NHS in the UK offers care to everyone free of charge. In many respects, it is a model that is looked upon with envy in other parts of the world. Most of us have experienced the care provided by the NHS which runs from excellent to perhaps not-so-good. However, when does “not-so-good” move into the realms of medical negligence?

 To establish a claim for medical negligence and recover compensation it is necessary to establish that:

  •  You are owed a duty of care
  • That the duty of care was breached
  • That you have suffered injury or loss as a result of that breach

Clearly, when you are treated within the NHS system, you are owed a duty of care. If you are at your GP surgery, at a hospital or at any other point in the NHS system, the health professionals looking after you owe you a duty of care.

When a duty of care is breached, it is sometimes obvious. But frequently, that is a very difficult question. At this point, the issue is best discussed with a solicitor who specialises in medical negligence claims. Often it is necessary to obtain an independent medical expert opinion on this issue.

Assuming that you are owed a duty of care and that duty of care was breached, did you suffer loss as a result of that?  You may not have actually suffered any loss despite the breach of duty of care.  That does not mean that you are not entitled to make a complaint to the NHS who cared for you, or the appropriate authority within the NHS. It will mean, however, that you will not be able to claim compensation.

Then, although you may have suffered a loss, it may not be related to the breach of duty of care.  For example, even if there had been no breach of duty, you could still have suffered injury or loss as a result of the circumstances you were in. This issue of “causation” can be very tricky and again expert legal advice should be sought and if necessary independent medical evidence obtained.

If you are aged 18 or over, you have 3 years from the date of the negligent act to bring a claim for compensation. (That means issuing court proceedings if your claim hasn’t been settled.) However, the 3 year period may not begin to run until later than the date of the incident. For example, if you had no knowledge of the incident or the fact that you had suffered loss until a later date. Therefore, it is not necessarily the case that you are out of time for bringing a claim after 3 years. Hence, it is very important to obtain expert advice sooner rather than.

In respect of children, the 3-year time limit does not start to run until their 18th birthday.

It is also worth remembering that our judicial system encourages the settlement of claims through mediation or dispute resolution to avoid proceedings having to be issued. Going to the court must be viewed as a last resort.

If you would like further information about medical negligence claims or wish to speak to someone about your particular situation, please call Richard Gregory on 01264 325811 or e-mail us at and he will be happy to help. There is no charge for a first consultation or preliminary assessment of your claim. Also, we can look at ways of funding it such as through legal expenses insurance or a “no win no fee" arrangement.

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