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What is medical negligence?

The law says that a doctor, midwife, nurse or other healthcare practitioner is negligent if they act in a way that falls below any acceptable standard of care. The patient is entitled to compensation for any injury that was caused by negligent medical care. They are also entitled to compensation for the financial consequences of that injury.

If you think that you or a family member have received negligent medical treatment which has caused serious injury or disability, we recommend that you speak to one of our friendly, experienced clinical negligence team as soon as possible.

Below you can find everything you need to know about medical negligence claims but if you wish to speak with us right away, you can contact us by telephone  0800 124 4845 or get in touch using our online form today.  Your enquiry will be handled confidentially and preliminary advice in relation to pursuing a claim will be given free of charge.

  1. How can you prove medical negligence? 
  2. How to make a medical negligence claim?
  3. What is causation in medical negligence claims?
  4. Will I need a medical examination if I make a medical negligence claim for compensation?
  5. How much compensation can you get for medical negligence? 
  6. How to fund a medical negligence claim? 
  7. Can I claim against the NHS?
  8. Can I make a claim on behalf of a child?
  9. Who can make a medical negligence claim?
  10. What can medical negligence compensation pay for? 
  11. What is MNSI?
  12. What is HSSIB?

How can you prove medical negligence? 

Medical negligence cases are legally and medically complex. If you have been seriously injured by medical negligence and want to claim compensation, it is essential that your solicitors specialise in clinical negligence and understand what is required, both legally and medically, to prove your claim.

The law says that a medical practitioner is negligent if they have acted in a way that no responsible body of medical opinion would regard as acceptable. That means that if the care given was of a reasonable standard the court will not regard it as negligent, whatever the result.

Where healthcare is found to be (legally) negligent, then the claimant (the person making the claim) must prove that their injury was caused or significantly worsened by the negligent care. This is important because the patient may already be very ill when they receive negligent medical care. In those circumstances, they must prove that their injury (and its financial consequences) would have been avoided or greatly reduced if correct treatment had been given. This aspect of the medical negligence claim is known as ‘causation’. Causation must be proven, even if negligence is admitted, for the claim to succeed and compensation to be awarded.

Negligence and causation must be proven by supportive opinions from medical experts. For more details please visit our dedicated page on proving medical negligence. 

How to make a medical negligence claim?

If you think that you or a family member have received negligent medical treatment which has caused serious injury or disability, we recommend that you speak to one of our friendly, experienced clinical negligence team as soon as possible. You can contact us by telephone or by email. Your enquiry will be handled confidentially and preliminary advice in relation to pursuing a claim will be given free of charge.

Our solicitors will:

  • ask you to tell us, briefly:
  • what has happened;
  • what you think went wrong;
  • about your injuries;
  • how the injury has affected various aspects of your life.
  • advise you about the limitation deadlines (time limits) which apply to your claim;
  • advise you whether we are able to help you investigate your claim.

Full details on how to make a medical negligence claim. 

What is causation in medical negligence?

In a medical negligence claim, compensation will only be paid for injuries and loss that we can prove were caused by the healthcare provider’s negligence.

Once we know what mistakes were made, the next step (causation) is to identify the extent of the injury or disability that was caused by those mistakes. This process of proving causation can be complex in claims where there is more than one potential cause for the injury, such as in birth-related brain injury claims. It can also be complicated where the patient would have suffered from the condition that was being treated in any event, but additional injury was caused by negligent treatment or delay. 

Proving causation in complex medical negligence cases requires both medical expertise and understanding of the law. We often succeed in claims where NHS Resolution (the NHS’ defence organisation) has denied ‘causation’. You can read more about how we overcome difficulties with causation in complex birth injury cases here

Will I need a medical examination if I make a medical negligence claim for compensation?

A medical examination is usually needed to assess our client’s injury.  Where our client has suffered multiple injuries or both physical and psychological injuries, they may need to be examined by specialists in each area. This is important to make sure that our client’s injuries are fully assessed and understood, so that they can be properly compensated.

If a medical examination is needed, we instruct the specialist and make the arrangements. We ensure that they have access to our client’s medical records and are aware of the background to the claim. The hospital or doctor against whom the claim is being made may also ask for our client to be examined by their medical expert.

How much compensation can you get for medical negligence? 

In England and Wales, the law says that compensation for medical negligence should put the injured person back in the position that they would have been in but for the negligently caused injury, in so far as money can. This means that compensation is calculated carefully to reflect the injured individual’s personal circumstances. Whilst the way in which we calculate damages follows certain mandatory principles and practises, the differences in our clients’ injuries, pre-injury lifestyles and post-injury needs means that no two claims will be the same.

To find out more go to our dedicated page on compensation for medical negligence claims.

How to fund a medical negligence claim? 

As top-rated specialists in cerebral palsy and other serious neurological disability claims, we have access to Legal Aid funding for eligible clients.

Where Legal Aid is not available, we act for clinical negligence clients on a conditional fee agreement (CFA or ‘no win no fee’) basis.  Just as the name says, no win no fee means that unless our client wins their case there are no legal fees for them to pay. 

CFAs make it easier for people to afford a legal claim because they do not have to pay any upfront charges. There are no legal bills along the way. They pay nothing if they lose their claim. If they win, nothing is payable until the end of the case.

If an injured person has legal expense insurance which was in place at the time that they were injured by medical negligence, their legal expense insurance policy might help with funding their claim. If you have legal expense insurance, you should let us know as soon as you are considering making a claim.

Find out more about funding options for negligence claims.

Can I claim against the NHS? 

The NHS has a responsibility to provide its patients with a safe and acceptable level of care. If a patient is seriously injured or their condition is made significantly worse as a result of negligent NHS care, the patient may be entitled to  claim compensation. Making a claim against the NHS does not affect the patient’s future NHS healthcare. Compensation can help meet the costs of care, therapies, equipment and home adaptations that are needed when an NHS mistake causes injury or disability that permanently affects the patient’s life.

We are experts at helping clients receive the compensation they deserve from the NHS. We understand the concerns that patients and their families sometimes have about claiming against the NHS. You can read our answers to many of the most common questions on our NHS claims page or speak directly to one of our solicitors about your own claim by calling us free on 0800 124 4845.

Will making a claim affect my NHS treatment?

No, your NHS treatment should not be affected simply because you are making a claim.

Can I make a claim on behalf of a child?

If a baby, child or teenager under the age of 18 makes a claim for compensation for injuries caused by medical negligence, their claim is made on their behalf by a ‘litigation friend’. This is usually a parent or guardian. As the child’s solicitor, we have a responsibility to make sure that all decisions relating to the claim are made in the best interests of the child. To do this, we work very closely with the child’s family. Some important decisions, such as settlement agreements or the amount of money that is allocated to a child in a claim involving more than one claimant, must be approved by the court.

We are specialists in helping families obtain full compensation for children who have been very severely injured leaving them with permanent disability and lifelong specialist needs. Our expert children’s claims service includes a dedicated Court of Protection team who help our clients protect, budget and access their compensation via deputyship and trusts, and an SEN team to ensure that their special educational needs are met. Find out more about how we help families, children and teenagers with children’s claims.

Who can make a medical negligence claim?

Anyone who has suffered serious injury or disability as a result of negligent NHS or private medical care can make a medical negligence claim for compensation. Special rules apply to children, adults with mental incapacity, and claims arising from someone’s death. 

Children and teenagers under the age of 18, or anyone with mental incapacity, must make their claim via a ‘litigation friend’. This is usually a parent or guardian in the case of a child, or a partner or other adult family member in the case of an adult with mental incapacity.  The solicitor handling the claim takes instructions and works closely with the litigation friend whilst ensuring that decisions are made in the best interests of the child or mentally incapable adult who is making the claim.  You can find out more about making a claim for a child.

Some important decisions, such as agreements to settle a child or mentally incapable adult’s claim, must be approved by the court.  Arrangements must also be made to safeguard the child or mentally incapable adult’s compensation, whether from an interim payment, lump sum settlement or agreed future payments. Depending on the claimant’s circumstances, this may be done by paying the money into a Court Funds Office account until the child is 18,  by appointing a Court of Protection deputy or setting up a personal injury trust.  You can find out more about Court of Protection deputyship and personal injury trusts.

If the claim is for bereaved family members and dependants after medical negligence caused someone’s death, the claim must be made by the deceased’s personal representative (executor or administrator of their estate) on behalf of all who are entitled to compensation as a result of the death. You find out more about making a fatal injury medical negligence claim.

What can medical negligence compensation pay for?

In medical negligence claims, compensation for serious injury and disability usually includes a sum for the injury, and sums to compensate for financial losses and the cost of meeting the needs that arise from the disability. Our expert knowledge and experience means that we recover maximum compensation in claims for catastrophic and life-changing injury.  We also ensure that our clients receive their compensation in the way that is best suited to meet their needs. In claims involving severe disability, compensation may include early interim payments, lump sums or lifelong, index-linked, annual payments.

Find out more about what can compensation pay for depending on individual circumstances.

Why choose Boyes Turner for your medical negligence claim?

Our nationally acclaimed medical negligence lawyers are recognised by Chambers Directory and Legal 500 as leading experts in clinical negligence. Our clients receive the highest standards of advice and representation and are always treated with compassion, outstanding care and understanding of the physical, emotional, psychological and financial impact that life-changing injury can have upon their lives.

We are known for obtaining the highest compensation awards and our track record of successful settlements speaks for itself.  In the last 12 months we have recovered over £100 million in compensation for our clients.

Our highly experienced medical negligence lawyers have the proven skills to succeed in high value, complex claims involving catastrophic injury and severe disability.

Interim payments to aid recovery

We work hard to secure early admissions of liability. This enables us to obtain substantial interim payments to begin easing the financial hardship which often follows a devastating injury. We use interim payments to make a real difference to the injured person and their family by getting care, rehabilitation and therapies underway as soon as possible. Depending on the client’s injury, we can help meet their needs for:

  • personal care and assistance;
  • physiotherapy;
  • occupational therapy;
  • speech and language therapy;
  • psychological counselling;
  • adapted accommodation;
  • wheelchairs;
  • transport;
  • prostheses;
  • assistive technology and other specialist equipment.

By understanding and targeting provision for our clients’ individual needs early in the claims process, we help restore our clients’ mobility, independence and ability to participate fully in family and social life, long before the claim has concluded.

Educational and workplace support

Depending on the type of injury, we can also facilitate our clients’ access to educational and vocational (workplace) support. We work closely with our special educational needs (SEN) specialists to achieve the right school placements for our disabled child clients.

What is MNSI?

MNSI is an acronym or shortened name for the Maternity and Newborn Safety Investigations Special Health Authority.

MNSI is the new Special Health Authority which is taking over investigations into patient safety incidents which have occurred during maternity or neonatal (newborn) care. MNSI will continue the work of HSIB’s maternity investigations programme which investigates maternity safety incidents which have caused harm to mothers and babies, including:

  • intrapartum stillbirth – where the unborn baby was alive at the start of labour;
  • early neonatal death – death of a newborn baby; 
  • severe brain injury to the baby, such as hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy or HIE, which is diagnosed in the first week of life;
  • maternal death – where the mother’s death is related to pregnancy or birth.

The Maternity and Newborn Safety Investigations Special Health Authority or MNSI has been formed to take over HSIB’s maternity investigations programme when HSIB changes status to become the Health Services Safety Investigations Body or HSSIB. The Health and Care Act 2022 did not provide for maternity investigations to be carried out by HSSIB. This is because the new HSSIB will have new powers to investigate most types of patient safety incidents under ‘safe space’, but this process is not appropriate for investigations into intrapartum stillbirth, early neonatal death, babies with severe brain injury diagnosed in the first week of life, or pregnancy-related deaths of mothers (known as maternal deaths).

Instead, in January 2022 the government announced that a new Special Health Authority would be established for up to five years to continue the work of HSIB’s maternity investigations programme.  In August 2022 HSIB announced that the new Special Health Authority created to carry out maternity investigations had been named the Maternity and Newborn Safety Investigations Special Health Authority or MNSI.

The government suggested that MNSI’s aim will be to achieve maximum learning from maternity safety incidents by:

  • providing independent, standardised, investigations of maternity cases that provide answers to families about why their loved ones died or were seriously injured;
  • preparing reports to help all levels of the healthcare system learn to improve clinical and safety practices in trusts to prevent similar incidents and deaths occurring;
  • analysing data gathered from investigations to identify trends and provide system-wide learning, including identifying improvement or lack of improvement; 
  • becoming a system expert in standards for maternity investigations and supporting trusts to improve their own investigations;
  • working with other organisations within the healthcare system to escalate safety concerns and share their knowledge.

HSIB has also suggested that part of MNSI’s role will be to provide NHS trusts with the expertise, skills and resources, to carry out their own maternity safety incident investigations in future.

MNSI is expected to take over HSIB’s maternity investigations from April 2023.

If you have been contacted by MNSI, HSIB, HSSIB or NHS Resolution after the birth of your child or in relation to the mother’s maternity care, we strongly advise you call us immediately on for free +44(0) 1189527201, confidential, specialist advice before you respond. Your child or your family may be entitled to substantial compensation.

What is HSSIB?

HSSIB is the acronym or shortened name for the Health Services Safety Investigations Body (HSSIB). 

In April 2023 the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) which investigates patient safety incidents,  will change its name, its status and the way it works and will become the Health Services Safety Investigations Body or HSSIB. 

HSSIB will continue the work of HSIB’s national investigations programme but will not take over HSIB’s maternity investigations. These will be carried out by the new Maternity and Newborn Safety Investigations Special Health Authority or MNSI. This is because the Health and Care Act 2022 gave HSSIB increased powers, beyond those used by HSIB. This will allow HSSIB to conduct patient safety investigations using ‘safe space’ protection, which is not appropriate for maternity investigations into patient safety incidents which have caused serious harm to mothers and newborn babies. 

From April 2023, when HSSIB becomes operational, it will be an independent, non-departmental, arm’s length body (ALB) of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).  HSIB hopes that the new HSSIB’s new working procedures and independence from the NHS and DHSC will help reassure patients and staff involved in patient safety incidents that their investigations are unbiased and don’t attribute blame, but will help the whole healthcare system learn from the system failures and mistakes that contributed to the patient’s injury. HSIB believes this will help improve patient safety.

HSSIB will work differently from HSIB:
•    HSSIB will be run by a board of executive and non-executive directors who will establish and take forward the strategic aims and objectives of the new organisation. HSSIB’s new board of directors will be accountable for the way HSSIB is managed, carries out its investigations, and for its performance. 
•    HSSIB will have the power to:  
o    access patients’ medical records without their consent;
o    compel people and organisations (such as NHS trusts) to cooperate with patient safety investigations;
o    obtain any evidence that it considers relevant for an investigation;
o    conduct investigations under ‘safe space’, meaning that evidence that is gathered can be protected from disclosure, even to the affected patient or their family.  
•    HSSIB will not carry out maternity investigations. These will be taken over by the Maternity and Newborn Safety Investigations Special Health Authority or MNSI.

If you have been contacted by MNSI, HSIB, HSSIB or NHS Resolution after the birth of your child or in relation to the mother’s maternity care, we strongly advise you to contact us on +44(0) 118 952 7201 immediately for free, confidential, specialist advice before you respond. Your child or your family may be entitled to substantial compensation. 

Meet your team

Susan Brown photo

Susan Brown

Partner

Julie Marsh headshot

Julie Marsh

Partner

Richard Money-Kyrle headshot

Richard Money-Kyrle

Partner

Sita Soni photo

Sita Soni

Senior Associate - solicitor

Vanessa Wand photo

Vanessa Wand

Senior associate - solicitor

Tara Byrne photo

Tara Byrne

Associate - Solicitor

Rachel Makore headshot

Rachel Makore

Associate - solicitor

Alpa Rana headshot

Alpa Rana

Associate - solicitor

Fran Rothwell

Fran Rothwell

Associate solicitor

Ben Ireland headshot

Ben Ireland

Solicitor

Audrey Elmore headshot

Audrey Elmore

Medical records coordinator

Nicky Melville headshot

Nicky Melville

Professional support assistant

Susan Brown photo
Julie Marsh headshot
Richard Money-Kyrle headshot
Sita Soni photo
Vanessa Wand photo
Tara Byrne photo
Rachel Makore headshot
Alpa Rana headshot
Fran Rothwell
Ben Ireland headshot
Audrey Elmore headshot
Nicky Melville headshot

What our clients say

Our clients constantly recognize us as the most experienced, professional, efficient and supportive

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"Julie Marsh is a first rate litigator"

Julie Marsh is a first rate litigator who adds real value to all her cases. I have always been impressed not just by her expertise as a clinical negligence lawyer but by the way she treats every client as an individual and works on their case as if it is the most important thing in the world, which to many clients it really is.

King's Counsel

"You have given fantastic support and guidance"

Boyes Turner have a great asset in Julie Marsh, she has handled my case with such professionalism and has kept me informed at every stage over the 6 years. She has given me guidance, support and that personal touch where I could ring or email at any time and she would always answer and give me answers to any questions I had. Would recommend without hesitation. Thank you

Boyes Turner Client

"I have been impressed"

Tara Byrne kept me well informed at all stages of my claim. I have been impressed with the way my case was handled, and the time scale within which a settlement was reached.”

Boyes Turner Client

"Very Professional "

Boyes Turner helped me through one of the toughest times in my life. They were very professional whilst remaining friendly. At times the process was emotionally tough but they were very patient with me and went through everything with me until I understood it. I cannot recommend them enough. 

Boyes Turner Client

"We cannot thank Susan and her team at Boyes Turner enough"

Words cannot express how grateful we are to Susan and her team for the level of commitment and dedication shown to our family during a time which would be difficult for anyone. Susan demonstrates a calm professional manner which helped us to feel at ease. Her level of knowledge has proven to be the best in the field and we fully recommend her to anyone seeking to investigate birth injury claims. You can be confident that Susan and her team will scrutinise the medical notes thoroughly and will keep you well informed throughout the process. We are very pleased with the outcome of our child’s case and know that her work has resulted in justice being achieved. Our family will now be able to move forward in the knowledge that the finances are securely in place for our child to receive a suitable care package, purchase equipment and receive necessary lifelong therapy. We cannot thank Susan and her team at Boyes Turner enough.

Boyes Turner Client