NHS Compensation Payouts Guide12 Dec 2023 | Stephanie Prior
Table of Contents
What Are NHS Compensation Payouts?
In the UK, the National Health Service delivers the vast majority of healthcare services. When these services are not up to standard and result in harm or injury to a patient, it may be necessary to make a medical negligence compensation claim to get your life back on track.
You may feel conflicted about this. Tales of underfunding are rife in the media, and you may worry that making a claim against the NHS will add to its financial burden.
However, in 1995 the government set up NHS Resolution (formerly known as the NHS Litigation Authority) as the claims management wing of the NHS. The system operates like an insurance company. All NHS trusts pay into the scheme so, when a successful claim is made, the payment comes from the NHS Resolution pot and not from the NHS budget.
What’s the average payout for medical negligence?
The idea behind medical negligence payouts is that the compensation should restore you to the standard of living you had before the incident. It’s hard to nail down average payouts as the settlement depends on the specifics of your claim.
The Judicial College publish guidelines for claims related to medical negligence, but these are just guidelines, and individual cases will differ.
For example, the guidelines suggest ranges for different types of injuries, such as brain damage and back injuries. Very severe brain damage, for instance, has a range from £282,010 to £403,990, while minor brain or head injuries range from £2,210 to £12,770. In the case of back injuries, severe injuries compensation ranges from £38,780 to £160,980, depending on the severity and specifics of the injury.
Factors influencing compensation amounts
Compensation in medical negligence cases consists of general damages and special damages.
General damages compensate you for the pain and suffering the injury has caused you. It takes into account the severity of the injury, what your prognosis is, and the impact this injury has had (and will continue to have) on your ability to enjoy life.
Usually, you’ll have a medical assessment to evaluate the various aspects of your injury and how it has impacted your life.
General damages extend to mental as well as physical injury. If medical negligence has a negative psychological impact on your life, then the compensation you receive should cover this, too.
Special damages cover specific financial losses that relate to your injury. These financial losses may involve:
- Medical bills
- At-home care costs
- Travel expenses
- Adaptation of your home
- Specialist equipment such as walking aids or prosthetics
- Loss of earnings
- Future loss of earnings, should you no longer be able to work effectively in your field of expertise
Special damages will be different in each case. Your solicitor will be able to give you the best and most accurate outlook of what damages you are able to claim.
NHS Resolution report insights
Each year, NHS Resolution releases a report that provides valuable insights into medical negligence claims against the NHS. The most recent report, covering the financial year 2022/23, offers the following insights:
- There were 13,511 new clinical negligence claims in 2022/23. This equates to over 37 claims per day—or one claim every 40 minutes!
- There was a 3.3% increase in the number of claims against hospital trusts, and a 45% increase in GP negligence claims.
- 80% of claims are settled without court proceedings being issued.
- 51% of the claims resulted in the payment of damages.
- Maternity negligence is the costliest area, accounting for 64% of the value of all claims.
In 2018, NHS Resolution paid out a record £37 million to a six-year old boy who suffered catastrophic brain damage during his birth. A few million-pound payouts like this make the headlines each year.
However, the average payout is much lower. It’s hard to give an exact figure as most records of what patients receive are confidential as a condition of them being settled out of court.
Judicial College Guidelines
The Judicial College publishes guidelines for the general damages aspect of personal injury claims, including medical negligence. These guidelines set out tariffs of compensation per injury type, with the aim of ensuring some consistency in settlement amounts.
There are various tables that help solicitors calculate how much compensation you should receive. The amounts differ depending on your age, the severity of your injury, whether you can continue to work, and other factors.
Who is eligible for NHS Compensation?
If you’ve suffered harm at the hands of an NHS professional and the incident:
- Happened in the past three years
- Was somebody else’s fault
- Caused you injury, further harm, complications or pain
Then you could be able to make a compensation claim against the NHS. The simplest way to find out whether you could make an NHS negligence claim is to arrange a call back or contact us on 020 4502 7309.
In most cases, you must start a medical negligence compensation claim within three years of discovering something went wrong with your medical treatment.
There may be other exceptions to the time limit in certain circumstances, so contact us to discuss your case.
How to increase your chances of a successful claim
Choose competent lawyers
While NHS Resolution prefers to settle out of court, this doesn’t mean they simply hand over the money. The first and most important step is to find competent lawyers who can prove you have the grounds for a medical negligence claim, namely:
- The NHS practitioner failed in their duty of care towards you
- You suffered harm as a result, and
- The harm and injury you suffered is directly linked to the practitioner’s actions
These issues are not straightforward. Often, the patient was already suffering with an injury or health condition when they received treatment. It can be difficult to establish a link showing that the medical care (or lack of it) caused the harm, and it was not caused by a deterioration in the underlying medical condition.
There are a lot of in-depth investigations to do, involving expert opinions and complex evidence. Your choice of solicitor can make all the difference between a successful or unsuccessful claim.
Medical records form the basis of your claim, but they may only tell one side of the story. Your solicitor will also need to review:
- Your detailed account of what happened
- Any supporting documents (e.g. hospital records, medical prescriptions, details of conversations you had with medical staff)
- Statement from any witnesses
- Photographs of the injuries or damages caused by the negligence
- Records of expenses that demonstrate what you have lost as a result of the clinical negligence
In most medical negligence cases against the NHS, your medical negligence solicitor will seek a report from one or more independent medical experts on your behalf. The expert will provide an impartial medical assessment of the quality of care provided.
Their medical opinion will be critical to determine whether the standard of care provided by the NHS was reasonable and, therefore, whether you should pursue a claim.
Understand the claims process
Making a claim for medical negligence is separate from making a complaint about your NHS care.
If you want to talk to the NHS about your experiences, and have them investigate the matter, then you can talk to the NHS staff member or Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) to get the ball rolling. This is a good option if you are simply looking for an apology and sense of closure.
If you are thinking about bringing a claim against the NHS, there are four broad steps:
- Start by giving us a call. We’ll work together to gather as much evidence as possible, such as your medical records, statements from witnesses and receipts for your expenses.
- We will arrange for a medical specialist to examine you and send a report back to us. This report will help us prove that the NHS did not live up to the right medical standards and caused you harm as a result. Once we have a solid case, we will send a Letter of Claim to NHS Resolution.
- The NHS has four months to respond. We use this time to calculate a fair compensation figure for your injuries.
- If the NHS does not admit liability, then we may have to take this further. You may have to meet with a barrister and go to court, but this is very rare.
Impact of Medical Negligence Payouts on the NHS
The NHS paid out £2 billion to patients in 2022/23, and a further £700m in legal costs. With payouts of this magnitude, we understand that many patients are concerned about the burden of making claims on the public purse.
However, you should bear in mind that a successful NHS negligence claim does not strip money from NHS budgets. Compensation is paid by NHS Resolution, which acts as the NHS’s insurer. NHS Resolution is funded by individual NHS Trusts, which in turn are funded by the taxpayer.
In addition, an important effect of making a claim to NHS Resolution is that it helps the NHS identify the areas where healthcare is not being delivered safely. This makes it easier for NHS staff to learn from mistakes and improve patient safety.
Start your claim against the NHS
It goes without saying that the NHS does a fantastic job in difficult circumstances and most patients receive a high standard of care. As a nation, we’re incredibly proud of our free-at-the-point-of-delivery health service.
Despite this, accidents happen. Whether because of human error or carelessness, the results of these mistakes can be life-changing. Patients are entitled to compensation, not with a view of financial gain, but as a necessity to help them pay for extra care, make up for lost wages, and restore their quality of life.
Serious injury claims can be complex and your choice of solicitor is crucial to the success of your case. If you think you may have a claim, contact us for expert advice and support in navigating the process. Remember, it’s not just about monetary compensation, but also about bringing attention to areas of healthcare where improvements need to be made for the safety of future patients.
Contact us today
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