Suing the NHS

To most people, making any sort of a claim for compensation is an action of last resort, not even contemplated until all other avenues to resolve a disagreement have been completely exhausted.

To make a claim against a Doctor or Hospital is a step further still.

There is an innate reluctance to sue a person or body who was fundamentally trying to do good, to make you or your loved one better; it just went wrong in some way.

However, in this day and age, when we have all heard and appear to accept that we have a so-called compensation culture, that reluctance is unnecessary, misplaced even.

The NHS and its employees have had the benefit of a purpose built Litigation Authority to protect its interests for almost 20 years now and are perfectly able to fight its own battles.

The Claims Process

An aggrieved person has the initial option of making a formal complaint, short of any legal process, via the NHS’ PALS system. The outcome of this ordinarily has no direct bearing or restriction upon any legal claim but in our experience only occasionally brings about a satisfactory closure to the matter as far as our clients are concerned.

Indeed, it is sadly our experience that the PALS process all too frequently prolongs the agony since it is slow and rarely achieves the desired outcome for our clients.

Assuming that either a complaint has been made and the process completed without resolution or else a legal route only is taken, what exactly is that route?

Well, at Lloyd Green, solicitors, our immediate concern is to obtain the full medical records pertaining to the client and obviously the specific matter complained about.

This part of our investigation is invariably the slowest and most frustrating part, for both our clients and ourselves. This is because the time it takes to obtain them is largely out of our control. While the rules affords 40 days for the written request for the records to be dealt with by the Hospital or Practitioner in question, it ordinarily takes so much longer. Moreover, the crux of the case is contained in the records in black and white and a properly formatted claim relies intrinsically on their contents. The records make a case as much as they destroy them.

Anyway, once they are received, we spend as long as necessary (usually many hours) poring over them in order to satisfy ourselves as to what happened and why.

Only then can we advise our clients upon the strength of their case and, if sufficiently good to do so, we would usually at that time draft a comprehensive letter of claim.

The protocol governing clinical negligence cases then allows the defence, represented by the National Health Service Litigation Authority, no less than 121 days to respond formally to the letter of claim. If it is politic to do so, that period can be extended but ultimately either a breach of the duty of care will be admitted or denied.

If the latter, and if no concession is subsequently made, litigation will follow and, eventually a Trial will take place, attended by the paraphernalia of witnesses and Judge, as most imagine.

However, if breach of duty is admitted, and if the defence also admit that the said breach caused the Claimant to have an adverse outcome ie if it were not for that breach, or negligence, the Claimant or victim would not have been harmed (lawyers call this ‘causation’) all that remains is to determine and agree the value of the compensation that is due.

This can of course sometimes take as long, or longer than proving breach of duty and causation, however at that stage the Claimant at least knows that fault or responsibility for the error has been accepted.

Our experience and expertise

Lloyd Green, solicitors, have years of experience in handling clinical negligence cases. We pride ourselves in being able to deal sensitively with cases where legal liability may not rest against the Doctor or Hospital in question in order to accomplish an understanding by our client that ultimately allows him or her to move on with their life.

We also take pride in our ability to secure a just and fair outcome for successful clients too, maximising the compensation payable by skilful negotiation and/or use of the Court system when appropriate and necessary.

Furthermore, we are confident that in most cases we will reach a conclusion swifter than most, if not all, of our competitors.

We employ only experienced solicitors to handle your case, as opposed to unqualified paralegals which many may be inclined to deploy. Indeed in most cases, you will be represented by a solicitor with a minimum of 10 years experience.

We will always be happy to discuss your situation with you at no obligation prior to your making any decision to instruct us.