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Posted on 22nd January 2018

Legacy Claims In Medical Negligence

In 2017, the NHS paid out an eye-watering £1.6 billion in medical negligence claims in England alone. Included in this sum is the cost of legacy claims. Dating back over 20 years, the cost of legacy medical negligence claims has risen to a five-year high. Last year, legacy claims rose to £27.7 million which was a 13% increase.

In other parts of the UK, Northern Ireland saw a threefold increase in legacy pay-outs with a cost of £4.1 million. In Scotland, the NHS paid £4.5 million last year for mistakes made before 1998. For errors over 20 years old, Wales saw NHS trusts paying out over £160,000 more last year.

Sadly, this rising cost shows that avoidable medical mistakes are still happening and have a profound effect on people’s lives.

One major area of concern surrounds maternity issues, where, in one in five births, an error occurs. Errors made involving children which are birth related often result in the highest levels of compensation being paid out. To combat this sector, NHS Resolution offers cash incentives to trusts who try and make their maternity wards safer. The NHS however is still failing to provide specific training in some areas such as Midwifery which could instantly reduce the number of birth related compensation claims.

Why is there an increase in legacy medical claims?

Medical negligence claims can often be complicated and can take many years to process. In many cases, it can take a long time to assess the symptoms and long-term costs of the claim. For others, they may not experience symptoms until several years later.

The other issue is when the NHS disputes the claims and refuse to admit responsibility. When this happens, the case has to go to court, making the process much longer than a settlement. There have been cases when a claim has taken over ten years to resolve.

For others, they may have only just realised that they can make a claim. Today, many others do not know at all that they could make a claim.


To make a medical negligence claim, there is typically a three-year time limit from when you became aware of the medical negligence to make a claim. For victims under 18 years old, their three-year time limit starts on their 18th birthday. Another exception is if the victim has a mental illness, then they have three years after recovery to make the claim.

Injuries caused by the actions of medical staff that could have been avoided may mean that you have cause to make a claim for compensation.

If you think you have the grounds for a medical negligence claim, contact us on 0330 3559210 or by emailing Our team of expert solicitors are experienced in clinical negligence and can help to make your claim run smoothly, operating on a no win, no fee basis.