Clinical Negligence – Steps to making a Claim

Date Added 02.03.22

If you are reading this, then the chances are that you believe you have a clinical negligence claim.

Prior to assessing your case, Tollers will always ask potential clients to make a formal complaint to the hospital, GP or treating clinician, if they are unhappy with their care or treatment.

Making a complaint can seem like a daunting process, but Tollers are here to guide you through it. Here is a helpful guide to making a complaint. The first port of call is usually PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) or a Practice Manager at  GP surgery.

However, If you are unsure where to send your complaint, then speak to our clinical negligence team, who can point you in the right direction.

1: Place:
  • Explain where the treatment took place. If the treatment took place in a hospital, you should list the departments and/or wards where you were seen.
2: Date:
  • State the date or the dates of the treatment or the date of the incident, or when you first became aware that something had gone wrong.
3: Details as to what happened and a timeline of events:
  • You should include as much information as possible as to what happened. If you are unhappy with a course of treatment or sequence of events, you should explain things in date order.
  • Try to remember the names of people that you saw, as well as their position within the Trust.
4: Your complaint:
  • You should explain why you are unhappy with your treatment.
  • If you have since been told that your treatment was incorrect, detail who has told you this.
  • Include copies of any relevant documents that you hold
5: Questions:
  • You should then include a list of questions that you would like answered.
  • This will be individual to each particular case, however, it is your opportunity to ask the questions that you would like answered.
  • For example, if your treatment relates to failing to X-Ray your arm which you later found out was broken, you should ask why an X-ray did not take place the first time you went to hospital.
6: Acknowledgement:
  • Ask that your complaint is acknowledged and a timeline as to when you can expect a full response.
7: Conclusion:
  • Conclude your complaint by providing your full name. If you are acting on behalf of somebody else (for example a minor), state your relationship with the person.
8: Copy:
  • You should also keep a copy of your complaint for your own records.
  • Tollers always recommend that the complaint is sent in via email or recorded delivery.
  • The clinical negligence team at Tollers will also request that you send a copy of your complaint so that it can be placed on your enquiry.
What happens next?

You should receive an acknowledgment from the Trust after sending in your complaint. If you have not heard within 14 days, you should telephone to check that your complaint was received.

With the acknowledgment you will often be given a timescale for their investigation and when you should receive a full response.

It is probably best to put this deadline in your diary or calendar as Trusts more often than not do not stick to their own timescales. Chase them up as soon as the date passes.  They may ask for an extension which is usually given.  Remember, to investigate properly they will need to speak to quite a number of staff and doctors before putting their response together.

During this time, the Clinical Negligence team at Tollers will remain in contact. We usually telephone or email you every four weeks to see if you have received any correspondence from the Trust.

How will the complaint be investigated?

The complaints department will often review your medical records, meet with your treating staff and respond to the questions you have raised within your complaint.

Once you have the formal written response, you should send this to the Clinical Negligence team at Tollers. They can review this to see if they are able to pursue the matter for you. If we are unable to assist, we will write to you with our advice and explain why.

As part of your complaint response, you may be offered a meeting with the complaints department and treating clinicians. You do not have to attend this and can ask for a formal written response instead. If you do attend the meeting, you should take somebody with you (such as a family member or friend) and ask to be provided with a copy of the meeting minutes.

If you are unhappy with your complaint response:

If you do not feel as though the complaint response addresses the questions you raised, you can normally revert back to the complaints department for a second time and outline the concerns that you still have. They can investigate the matter again and provide you with further clarity.

If you are still unhappy with your response, you may be able to take the complaint to the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman.

The impact of making a complaint and bringing a legal claim:

Tollers will always ask you to make a complaint before we take the case on for a number of reasons. The first is that your complaint helps us to identify the main issues you are unhappy with. The complaint response may also lead to admissions of failings within your care.

For your Clinical Negligence claim to succeed, a patient must prove two legal tests: breach of duty and causation.

Breach of duty means that a patient has to show that their care fell below an acceptable standard, which would not be supported by a responsible body of practitioners. If the Trust in their complaint response makes any admissions, this helps the Tollers clinical negligence team assess the prospects of success of your claim.

What happens next?:

After reviewing the complaint response, our clinical negligence team will know if they are able to assist. If we can take the case on for you, we will take the case on a No-Win, No-Fee basis with insurance in place to protect you from having to pay any costs at the end of the claim.

If you believe that you have a clinical negligence claim… Talk to Tollers clinical negligence team who is on hand to guide you through the process.

Types of Clinical Negligence claims Tollers can assist with…

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