Clinical negligence

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

Your stories

Healthy talks with Conservatives in Manchester

Ally Cobb, Mind Senior Policy and Campaigns officer
Posted on 03/10/2013

Taking care of business at Mind

Emma Mamo
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Reflecting on a tough year

Tom reflects on 2013, and the work that the Policy and Campaigns team has been doing on a number of issues.

Tom Pollard, Policy and Campaigns Manager
Posted on 16/12/2013

Terms you need to know




An advocate is a person who can both listen to you and speak for you in times of need. Having an advocate can be helpful in situations where you are finding it difficult to make your views known, or to make people listen to them and take them into account.

See our pages on advocacy for more information.


'Capacity' means the ability to understand information and make decisions about your life. Sometimes it can also mean the ability to communicate decisions about your life.

If you do not understand the information and are unable to make a decision about your care, for example, you are said to 'lack capacity'.

See our pages on the Mental Capacity Act for more information.

Civil Procedure Rules (CPR)

These are the rules which set out how a case is to be conducted in the civil courts (as opposed to criminal courts) in England and Wales. The aim of these rules is to make the court procedures fairer and easier to understand.

Conditional fee arrangement (CFA)


This is an arrangement that law firms sometimes make to pay for your legal case. It means that you only pay for your lawyer's work if you win your case and you receive compensation.

If your claim is successful, you'll pay for your lawyer's costs, as well as an extra percentage of the compensation, called a 'premium'.

If your claim is unsuccessful, you won't have to pay for your lawyer's legal work.


This is money awarded by a court to be paid as compensation for your loss or injury.

Duty of care

This is the legal obligation of a person or organisation to act with the attention and caution that a reasonable person would while you’re in their care or using their services.

Legal aid

Legal aid can help meet the costs of legal advice, family mediation and representation in a court or tribunal. It is given to people who cannot otherwise afford legal representation.

You’ll usually need to show that:

  • your case is eligible for legal aid
  • the problem is serious
  • you can’t afford to pay for legal costs.
Letter before claim


A letter before claim (sometimes known as a 'letter before action') is a letter putting a person on notice that court proceedings may be brought against them.

Courts believe that bringing legal action should be a last resort and encourage people to resolve their disputes at an early stage by communicating with each other and trying to find a solution informally.

Mental Health Act 1983

This is a law that applies to England and Wales which allows people to be detained in hospital (sectioned) if they have a mental illness and need treatment. You can only be kept in hospital if certain conditions are met.

See our pages on the Mental Health Act for more information.


Negligence, in law, is an act or failure to act (omission), that doesn't meet the level of appropriate care expected, which results in injury or loss.

If a doctor or health professional is negligent when giving you medical treatment, this is called 'clinical negligence'.

NHS Resolution

NHS Resolution is the part of the NHS which has been set up to deal with negligence claims. They defend claims brought against the NHS and share learning from claims to improve patient and staff safety in the future.


Under the Welsh complaints system Putting Things Right, an NHS body will investigate your claim and consider if you have the right to redress. 

Redress can be:

  • an explanation
  • a written apology
  • a report on the action which has or will be taken to prevent similar incidents arising in future
  • an offer of financial compensation and/or remedial treatment.


Being 'sectioned' means that you are kept in hospital under the Mental Health Act. There are different types of sections, each with different rules to keep you in hospital. The length of time that you can be kept in hospital depends on which section you are detained under.

See our pages on sectioning for more information.

This information was published in November 2018. We will revise it in 2020.

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