Is your medical complaint grounds for a claim?

On behalf of Attwaters Jameson Hill posted in Medical Negligence on Tuesday, February 6th, 2024

The NHS works extremely hard to keep us healthy, with thousands of people receiving exemplary treatment every day. However, medical professionals do sometimes fall short of the standards we have come to expect. If you are unhappy with the treatment you have received, it is possible to make a complaint to the hospital or treatment provider.

If you have been injured as a result of the dissatisfactory treatment, you may also have grounds to claim compensation.


If you are dissatisfied with any element of the treatment you have received, you can make a formal complaint to the hospital. This complaint must be made within 12 months of becoming aware of the matter you are complaining about.

For example, you might be complaining about:

  • The care or treatment you have received
  • The attitude of a member of NHS staff towards you
  • Delays to care or appointments
  • Poor communication
  • Etc.

When a formal complaint is made, the hospital or treatment provider must undertake an internal investigation to gather all the necessary facts about your matter, after which learning outcomes will be identified and disseminated throughout the organisation.

Complaints should be responded to within 25 days, although longer timescales are usually agreed with the complainant to allow sufficient time for investigation. You may be invited to a meeting with your healthcare provider to discuss the deficient care. Many complaints are resolved locally but, if you are still dissatisfied with the outcome you are entitled to complain to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, which is independent of the NHS.

The formal complaints process is designed to find out what has happened, and secure an apology for the victim or a change of practice to avoid the same thing happening to somebody else.

It is not possible to obtain financial compensation through the complaints process. To achieve this, you must make a claim.

Compensation claims

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of your complaint and have been injured or harmed as a result of your treatment, you may be entitled to make a legal claim for compensation. Following an independent investigation, a successful claim can help you with the costs of rehabilitation and any ongoing care you may need as a result of your injury or disability.

To be successful in your claim, there are three legal tests you must prove:

  1. The medical professional owed a duty of care
  2. There was a breach of this duty – you must show that no other reasonable body of medical practitioners of like discipline would have treated you in the same way
  3. There is causation – i.e., there must be a direct causal link between the breach of duty and your injuries.

The compensation you are entitled to will depend on a range of factors, including:

  • The severity of your injury
  • The impact of the injury on your daily life
  • The financial losses you have incurred as a result
  • Your current and future medical needs.

Typically, there is a three-year deadline – or ‘limitation period’ – to make a claim, starting from the date you first became aware that you may have suffered an injury as a result of substandard treatment. For children, the three-year period starts from their 18th birthday. If the claimant lacks mental capacity, then the limitation period does not apply.

Not sure if you have a claim?

If you are unhappy with the treatment you have received from a medical practitioner, you may be unsure if you have grounds for a complaint or a legal claim. Our empathetic Medical Negligence solicitors would be delighted to chat through your experience with you – so please do give us a call on 0330 221 8855 or email enquiries@attwaters.co.uk to find out more.

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