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Substandard medical care claims

Doctors and other health professionals should normally obtain your informed consent (which is in essence your agreement) to undergo any treatment they propose to give you, unless for example, you were unconscious at the time and urgent medical treatment was required in order to save your life.


You are also entitled to receive a reasonable standard of care, when that medical treatment is carried out irrespective of whether you are a private or NHS patient. Sometimes there can be failings in one or both of these processes and on the rare occasions that this occurs, it can give rise to a potential medical negligence compensation claim.

When medical errors occur, they can be quite understandably very distressing. Even, what on the face of it may seem like minor medical errors, can sometimes have devastating consequences and result in enormous changes to lifestyle and ambition. If such medical mistakes cause injuries or health problems which mean that your ability to work is restricted or you cannot work again, then dealing with the associated financial worry and stress of that situation also becomes an additional concern.

In most circumstances, prompt recognition of the problem, early intervention and treatment can often maximise the chances of making the best and quickest possible recovery, so that you can resume, as far as is possible, a normal life.

In our experience, most people who make a medical negligence claim do so reluctantly, having never made any sort of legal claim before. In general, financial compensation is not the primary reason for making these sorts of claims, although some may have no option but to bring a claim, especially, if for example, they need to fund long-term care and are unable to work again as a result of their injuries.

More often than not, the main reason for people bringing these claims is to get answers about what has happened to them and why. People often also want to try to ensure that lessons are learned so as to avoid the same thing happening to somebody else. The decision to bring a medical negligence claim can also sometimes be prompted if that person feels that the hospital has not properly addressed their concerns about their treatment or were not open and honest during the hospital’s own complaints process.

Shoosmiths specialist medical negligence team have helped many people to obtain compensation for injuries arising as a result of substandard medical care. If you believe that you may have been injured as a result of substandard medical care, then we can offer you expert advice and guidance on whether you potentially have a claim.


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More about general medical problems

You have a right to complain if you are dissatisfied with the medical treatment that you have received and the right to make a claim for compensation if you have been injured by negligent medical treatment. It is entirely possible to make a formal complaint at the same time as investigating a legal claim. Each process has its own specific time limits and therefore you should seek appropriate help and guidance as soon as it is practicable to do so.

 In terms of making a complaint, whether your treatment was NHS or private, your complaint should ideally be made within six months (12 months if treatment is ongoing). Every NHS hospital should have a complaints procedure. Details of who to write to, time limits for providing responses, etc., can often be found on the Hospital's own website. If your treatment was private, then the complaint would usually be made directly to the doctor involved and who provided your care. If you are unhappy with the outcome of a complaint made to a hospital then you can turn to the independent Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

 As mentioned above, complaints about private medical treatment should usually be made directly to the clinician involved. Some private hospitals are members of the Association of Independent Healthcare Organisations which encourages members to acknowledge a complaint within two days of it being made and make a full written response within 20 working days.

 Our expert team has the necessary expertise and experience required to deal with these sorts of claims. Where substandard medical treatment can be proven, our team can help you to recover the compensation to which you are entitled as a result of any injuries which you have suffered as a result of that substandard care. In appropriate circumstances we can also help you in obtaining the explanations you seek in relation to your medical care, even if you have already gone through the complaints process.

How do I make a claim about general medical problems

In general we'll need to obtain copies of your medical records, witness evidence (i.e. Statements from you and/or family members) and evidence from independent medical experts to establish whether or not you have received sub-standard care and if so, whether you have suffered injury as a result of that sub-standard care.

If the evidence obtained indicates that you have received substandard care then we would normally go on to obtain expert medical evidence addressing what treatment you might need now and in the future. We would also then normally begin to look at what potential financial losses, you may have suffered as a result of the negligence, such as lost earnings if your return to work has been delayed or you cannot return to work, and the costs of whatever help and support you may need as a result of the negligence.

All this takes time, but this information is vital to allow us to recover the appropriate amount of compensation to which you're entitled. The stance of the other side can also sometimes affect the time a claim takes to settle. Sometimes, the other side might accept our independent medical evidence and our valuation of the case. In these circumstances, claims will generally settle more quickly than in cases where liability is denied.

Claims can often be settled through negotiation even sometimes if liability is denied by the other side, but some can and do go to trial. We will always aim to settle your case as soon as possible, but our priority is to ensure that we achieve the best possible outcome for you based on the evidence.


If I have a case about general medical problems

If you are dissatisfied with the medical care that you have received and/or believe that you have been injured as a result of substandard medical treatment, then irrespective of whether or not you have grounds to bring a formal claim, you are entitled to an explanation as to what has happened and why the outcome was not as expected. A treating doctor is professionally required to inform a patient when a treatment has gone wrong. In cases where medical treatment has resulted in a death, then certain classes of individuals (e.g. spouses) can take action in their own right and on behalf of the deceased’s estate.

In these cases it is first necessary to prove that a doctor made negligent mistakes in your care and then go onto show that injury or death was either caused, or materially contributed to, by that failing in care.

In order to do this, we need to obtain evidence from a number of sources to support and prove your claim. We need to obtain your medical notes and records, witness statements and reports from independent medical experts to establish whether or not your medical care was sub-standard and if it was whether you were injured as a result of that substandard care.

Examples of breaches of a duty of care which can potentially give rise to these sorts of claim include a delayed diagnosis, a failure to appropriately warn of the risks of certain types of treatment so as to obtain proper informed consent, medication errors, negligent surgical procedures or techniques and delays in referrals to specialists. This list is not exhaustive and each case is judge on its own specific facts.

If Shoosmiths can prove on your behalf that you have suffered injury and losses because of substandard medical care, then you will have a potential claim for compensation


Our Experts

  • Richard Bannister

    Richard Bannister

    Principal Associate

    Medical Negligence

    Richard has acted successfully in a variety of clinical negligence claims, drawing on his wealth of experience.

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  • Sumit Morjaria

    Sumit Morjaria

    Senior Associate

    Medical Negligence

    Sumit is a senior associate working in the medical negligence department.

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  • Simon Towler

    Simon Towler

    Senior Associate

    Medical Negligence

    Simon has been dealing with personal injury and clinical negligence claims since 1992, and qualified as a Legal Executive in 1997. Since 2008 Simon has concentrated on clinical negligence claims.

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  • James Wright

    James Wright

    Principal Associate

    Medical Negligence

    Dr James Wright is a Principal Associate in the medical negligence team of Shoosmiths.

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'Shoosmiths got me the rehab I needed and really helped with my family. They were fantastic throughout.'

Nicola Cooper, who suffered a serious brain injury after a seemingly trivial car accident.

General Medical Problems

No matter what your circumstances or injuries, we can offer you our expert and discrete advice on whether you have a case and can help you make a successful claim for general medical problems.

Why Shoosmiths

Who we work with

  • Brain Injury Group
  • Child Brain Injury Trust
  • Headway
  • SIA
  • Back Up
  • Macmillan
  • Danielles Flutterbyes
  • Forces
  • Bens Heroes Trust

Our accreditations

  • Accredited Personal Injury
  • Apil
  • Ama
  • Clinical Negligence
  • Legal 500
  • UK Chambers
  • The Society Of Clinical Injury Lawyers