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Posted on 22nd October 2018

How Does Claiming Against the NHS Work

When you choose to sue a doctor and make an NHS claim, the process can seem a little daunting. Making a claim against NHS is very similar to claiming against a private practice, and some claimants choose to pursue a formal complaint to the NHS as well as making an NHS negligence claim.

The complaints procedure will not result in a claim against NHS or any medical compensation. However, there is nothing stopping you from making a subsequent NHS claim if you have already made a formal complaint.

Is Suing For Medical Negligence Difficult?

Suing for medical negligence doesn’t have to be a complicated procedure, and a clinical negligence solicitor can help you to keep the process as simple as possible. In 2017/2018 10,673 medical malpractice claims were made against the NHS. From them, 5,507 received damages payments of some kind.

If you have suffered a medical injury at the hands of the NHS, it is essential to highlight the issue to the hospital or surgery to make them aware of their shortcomings. It is also vital to sue doctor or make an NHS claim in order to get the compensation you deserve.

Is It Always Best To Make A Complaint While Suing A Doctor?

In some rare cases, you might be prevented from pursuing an NHS complaint while also suing for medical negligence at the same time. This can happen if the complaint is deemed to interfere with the legal proceedings of your claim against NHS. For independent advice on suing for medical negligence, you can find out more from Citizens Advice. If you are wondering how to prove medical negligence when making a claim against NHS, read our page on proving medical negligence claims.

Quick NHS Claim Facts:

  • In order to sue doctor or claim against NHS, you must begin your medical malpractice claims within three years from the incident taking place, or from when you first realised you suffered an injury.
  • For children, this three-year limit does not begin until their 18th birthday.
  • If the NHS claim is regarding a patient who isn’t able to manage their own affairs because of a mental disability, the three year period does not apply until (and unless) they recover from their disability. A parent or loved one can make a claim against NHS on their behalf.
  • Medical negligence NHS compensation is paid by NHS Resolution, which used to be known as the NHS Litigation Authority (NHS LA).
  • It is necessary to show that a breach of duty took place to make a claim against NHS.
  • NHS claims will normally take a minimum of one year but can take longer depending on each individual case. A more complicated claim against NHS will often take longer.

The Steps:

All medical injury claims must follow the Pre-Action Protocol which is made up of several stages. The process of making a claim against NHS is:

  1. Speak To A Medical Negligence Specialist

    Contact a specialist such as Negligence Claimline to begin pursuing your claim. To contact Negligence Claimline, call our friendly team on 0330 355 9210 or email us at

  2. Provide Detail

    If our malpractice lawyers think you might have a case to sue doctor or claim against NHS, they will get back in touch to find out some more information. They will ask you some questions such as:

    • How the hospital malpractice or medical injury has affected you or your loved ones
    • If you have lost earnings because of your medical injury or have had to spend more money because of medical negligence
    • Details of any suffering or pain you have experienced as a result of medical negligence.
  3. Provide Records

    Your NHS claim solicitors may need to have access to your medical records to understand your case for clinical negligence fully. If they need to access your records, they will either ask you to hand them a copy of your records if you have got them or will ask you to give written permission to access them.

    Your malpractice lawyers can provide you with a template which you will need to sign in order to give permission for them to access your files. In some cases, they may need to consult your NHS case with a medical expert.

  4. The Letter Of Notification

    The next stage is for your solicitor to prepare a Letter of Notification. This will need to be sent to the treatment provider or NHS Trust, as well as to NHS Resolution. The Letter of Notification is a pre-warning that you are making a claim against NHS and that they should begin making their own investigations into the hospital malpractice.

    Once they have received this letter, they will need to acknowledge it within 14 days and identify who will be dealing with the NHS claim by nominating who the Letter of Claim should be sent to.

  5. The Letter Of Claim

    Your NHS claim solicitors will have gathered all the required information and can now use this to compile the Letter of Claim. This is a summary of the facts about your claim against NHS and will include details of your medical injury and hospital malpractice. If you have experienced any financial loss, this will also be detailed in the Letter of Claim.

  6. The Letter Of Response

    NHS Resolution and the healthcare provider in question must confirm receipt of this letter within two weeks and provide a Letter of Response within four months. The Letter of Response will state whether your NHS claim has been admitted or denied and will include all the relevant information regarding this decision.

If your claim is admitted:

  • Clear acknowledgement that the claim is admitted
  • If only part of the claim is admitted, a clear explanation of which negligence is admitted, which is denied and why
  • A statement of whether the admissions are binding
  • If an offer to settle has been made in the Letter of Claim, the Letter of Response should reply to this
  • If no offer to settle has been made, the Letter of Response can include an offer

If your claim is denied:

If your medical malpractice claims have been denied, then you can consider Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). This can be in the form of:

Specific comments on the allegations of negligence, and if the details of the actual events are disputed, an alternative version of events

    • A discussion or negotiation to provide an explanation or apology.
    • Mediation with a third party facilitating a successful resolution.
    • Arbitration, where a third party will decide how the dispute should be resolved.
    • Ombudsmen schemes.

Using ADR is not a requirement when making a claim against NHS, but if you choose not to participate, then your reluctance could be considered unreasonable by a court.

If a settlement cannot be decided on, the court proceedings will go ahead. You will be given a certain amount of time to determine whether you want to pursue court proceedings or not. If this time is more than six months, then you much let the defendant know what you are doing.

Further Information