Medical Negligence

Medical negligence claims are rising – but more are being settled out of court

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Vince Shore

Joint Head of Clinical Negligence (Hull)

5 min read time
25 Jan 2022

The NHS is settling more medical negligence cerebral palsy and other claims out of court than ever before.

According to NHS Resolution, a body which provides expertise to the NHS on resolving disputes, it settled more than 15,500 clinical and non-clinical claims in 2021. Almost 75% were settled without formal court proceedings, 25% with proceedings but without trial and just 56 cases went to trial.

NHS Resolution says it is committed to avoid the need for court proceedings and this “will continue beyond the pandemic”.

This is a welcome development for our clients who could now be less likely to undergo the stress of going court to prove their case, it could also see cases settled sooner and with less being spent on legal expenses.

However, medical negligence cases are rising, in its most recent annual report NHS Resolution says it received 12,629 clinical negligence claims in 2020 / 2021 – a 7.5% increase on the previous year.

It has also released data under the Freedom of Information Act identifying the NHS hospital trusts in England with the most clinical negligence claims over a five year period from 2015 to 2019 due to wrong or delayed diagnosis. They are:

  • Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust – 256 claims
  • University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust – 248 claims
  • Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust 218 – claims
  • County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust 183 – claims
  • Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust – 162 claims
  • Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust (The) – 160 claims
  • Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – 155 claims
  • Northern Lincolnshire & Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – 153 claims
  • United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust – 149 claims
  • Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust – 146 claims

Hudgell Solicitors’ medical negligence team has over 20 years of experience in succeeding in even the most complex cases involving cerebral palsy claims, among other conditions.

In a recent case of misdiagnosis our client was awarded £65,000 after her brain tumour was missed during a scan. It was another three years before she went to another hospital after losing her vision when it was finally spotted.

The case was settled out of court and United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, who admitted breach of duty, told our client, “We have clearly let you down. It is hard to express how truly sorry we are that your tumour was missed following your MRI scan.”

Read more: Mother awarded £65,000 after her brain tumour was missed

According to NHS Resolution obstetrics claims remain the largest proportion to resolve, representing 11% of all new claims. These claims are largely concerned with the care of pregnant woman, the unborn child and subsequent birth injuries.

Chris Moore, joint head of clinical negligence at Hudgell Solicitors recently represented a woman making a cerebral palsy birth injury claim on behalf of her son. The mother and her son, who is now 17, are set for a damages award of up to £20m after a High Court judge ruled in the child’s favour against Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.

When cases can’t be settled out of court Hudgell Solicitors will support its clients to get justice and keep fighting in the face of intransigence.

Read more: Boy born with cerebral palsy set for possible £20m damages

After obstetric claims, the other two medical areas NHS Resolution dealt with were emergency medicine and orthopaedic surgery. Orthopaedic surgery covers acute injuries, congenital and acquired disorders and chronic arthritic or overuse conditions of the bones, joints and their associated soft tissues, including ligaments, nerves and muscles.

One client Hudgell Solicitors recently represented, a 50-year-old woman, was left needing crutches after knee replacement surgery.

She claimed she had been left worse off following the operation to repair her knee and would not have had the operation had she been fully informed of the risks and other non-surgical options. This case was settled out of court where the woman was awarded £80,000

Read more: Woman left needing crutches after knee replacement received £80,000 damages

NHS Resolution reports the amount it paid out in the last financial year in resolving claims dropped by £120 million but it says the process of investigating and resolving claims slowed during the pandemic.

Covid, and the NHS response to it, is having an acute effect on services resulting in late diagnosis and late treatment. A recent report by Macmillan Cancer Support highlighted a “staggering” backlog of more than 47,000 people missing a cancer diagnosis in the UK in 2021.

Hudgell Solicitors are experts in representing clients in cases of missed diagnosis and late treatment.

Maureen Gater was referred to The University Hospital Lewisham by her GP after a period of coughing up blood. An x-ray showed a subtle obscurity on her lung, but the scan was wrongly recorded by doctors as not being of any significance.

It meant the cancer was not diagnosed until more than a year later and resulted in her losing four years of life. Her family were awarded £65,000 after the Trust admitted to breaches of its duty of care.

Read more: 12-month delay in treatment cost grandmother four years of life

Our medical negligence solicitors are here to help you start a claim if you feel you’ve received substandard medical treatment or have been adversely affected or injured through negligence by a surgeon, nurse, or GP.

We understand that no amount of medical negligence compensation can change what you’ve been through, but it can help to relieve financial pressures caused, such as by medical bills or the loss of earnings, helping you to move forward with your life.

You can begin by contacting us via our claim form and selecting Medical Negligence as the type of claim.

We advise and help with everything, from assistance with drafting a complaint to predicting the likely outcome of your medical negligence claim, so that you can feel confident and reassured every step of the way.

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Medical negligence claims are rising – but more are being settled out of court

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