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Clinical negligence

Explains what clinical negligence is, how to make a complaint about clinical negligence and where to find more information and support.


Generally, doctors and health professionals will take good care of you when you're being treated. However, sometimes things can go wrong.

If they are negligent when giving you medical treatment, this is called 'clinical negligence', and you may have the right to get compensation for it.

Quick facts

  • To prove negligence, you need to show that a healthcare professional failed in their duty to take care of you, and you experienced a damage or loss as a result of that failure. Damage or loss can include both physical and psychiatric injury, as well as financial loss.
  • If you've experienced clinical negligence, you could make a complaint about it by speaking to someone informally, or by making a formal complaint. It's usually much easier to solve something informally or through a formal complaint than by making a legal challenge.
  • If speaking to someone informally or making a formal complaint hasn't worked or isn't appropriate, you may want to make a legal challenge. This means you'll need to go to court. You'll need to start the legal claim within three years from the date of the incident or from when you knew the injury was negligent.
  • It's always important to get legal advice about your situation before going to court. You might be able to get some help paying for your legal fees, for example through a conditional fee agreement, or through your trade union.
  • If your claim is successful, the court can award you money as compensation, known as damages. Damages can include compensation for cost of pain and suffering, and loss of earnings.
  • If you've experienced medical negligence, it's understandable that you might feel stressed, and that you need some support. See our page on getting support when making a complaint for ideas on where you can find help. You can also see our pages on wellbeing and managing stress for tips on how to stay well.

This information was published in November 2018. 

This page is currently under review. All content was accurate when published. 

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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