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Delay or Failure To Refer For Specialist Treatment

Reviewed by

Peter Rigby - Director of Medical Negligence | Last updated on: 1st February, 2024

We've got your Delay or Failure to Refer Claim covered

When we attend an appointment to see our GP, we usually assume that our ailments will be minor and that the GP will be able to prescribe a remedy. However, the first appointment at the GP can sometimes uncover more serious problems which require the attention of a specialist in the field. This may be a condition beyond the GP’s area of expertise and in this case you will need to be referred. Failure to refer a patient when they require specialist treatment can have severe consequences and could result in further health issues or the condition worsening when it could have been treated.


If you feel that your GP has either delayed referral or failed to refer you and this has led to further complications, you may be eligible to make a compensation claim.

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Can My GP Refuse To Refer Me To A Specialist? 

According to the NHS, you are entitled to request a referral for specialist treatment. However, the outcome will depend on a clinical assessment by your GP and they may decide that you do not need specialist treatment. 


Refusal to refer you for specialist treatment does not necessarily mean that you are entitled to compensation. 


If you believe negligence in your referral for treatment has caused harm or the worsening of a condition, you will need to discuss this with your medical negligence solicitor and provide clear evidence to determine eligibility..


Examples Of Delay or Failure To Refer For Specialist Treatment Claims

Incidents in which you may be able to make a claim include:

  • Delay in referral to a specialist
  • Delay in the right treatment being carried out
  • Unnecessary delay in treatment
  • Failure to recognise the need for treatment of a specialist nature
  • Failure to send referral or loss of referral 
  • Referral to the wrong specialist treatment


At Patient Claim Line, we understand the devastation that medical negligence can have on your life. We appreciate  that you want to get your life back on track as soon as possible and we are here to alleviate the burden and stress whilst you make your medical negligence claim. We are here to listen, whilst working to deliver the best outcome for you.


How Long Does It Take To Pursue A Claim? 

The length of your negligence claim will largely depend on the nature and severity of your case. In some cases the claims process can take several months, in others it may be longer. Due to the unique nature of each case it’s difficult to make a precise estimation of how long your claim will take. 


For a clearer idea of how long it takes to make a claim, you may wish to speak to a medical negligence solicitor. If you would like to speak with a solicitor to determine whether you are eligible, or would like any further information at all, we offer a free legal advice phone line, providing qualified legal information. Our medical negligence specialists are experienced in all kinds of negligence cases, including GP’s Failure To Refer claims, and can help to clarify the claims process.


No Win No Fee

Our team of medical negligence solicitors understand the stress, frustration, and even anger that a negligent GP or a delayed referral can cause you.


As we always work on a no win no fee basis with no upfront costs, it costs you nothing to find out if you have a case. If you do not have a case, or if the case is not successful once started,, you will walk away without having to pay a penny, so long as you have worked with us and cooperated. That’s our promise to you and your family. Contact us today to see if you have a viable claim. 


We take on many cases involving delayed treatment and referral failures, and will obtain all the necessary medical records to help us assess what has gone wrong and ensure you are fully compensated for any unnecessary pain and suffering.

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Why Choose Patient Claim Line for your Delay or Failure to Refer Claim?

Not just lawyers — medical negligence experts

Patient Claim Line was established in 2014 and consists of a team of medical lawyers specialising in cancer negligence and general medical negligence claims.

At Patient Claim Line we have more than 100 solicitors with a combined experience of over 400 years and they will work on your behalf to achieve the best result possible for you.

It’s not enough to use a solicitor who sometimes covers medical negligence. You need someone who knows this area through and through. That is what the solicitors here at Patient Claim Line do. They deal exclusively in this area of law and are experts in the field.

Frequently asked questions about Delay or Failure to Refer Claims

Our expert legal team answer your questions about making a Delay or Failure to Refer Claim

In our experience, we have seen clients have their referrals delayed for various reasons such as: 


  • Clinic Cancellation 
  • Administrative delays 
  • Delayed diagnosis 

There are several other reasons a referral may be delayed and these are outlined by the NHS.

To help prove that negligence occurred there are various types of evidence that might be needed and you should speak to your solicitor to understand exactly what is needed for your claim. Some of the common types of evidence required are medical records, notes of conversations and photographic/video evidence of the incidents you experienced.

The NHS states that ‘if your GP refers you for a condition that’s not urgent, you have the right to start treatment led by a consultant within 18 weeks from when you’re referred.’ However, this is dependent on your clinical needs and you may need to discuss this with a medical professional at the time of referral. If a delay has led to the worsening of your condition, you could be entitled to make a claim for medical negligence.

Meet our Delay or Failure to Refer Team

  • Christian Beadell

    Partner, Head of Strategy and Legal Operations

  • Sowmya Jagannath

    Senior Solicitor

  • Alison Flaherty

    Partner, Head of Medical Negligence

  • Bilal Qasim

    Associate, Senior Solicitor

  • Case Study

    Sarah's Story

    "Now we have peace of mind"

    My husband, Nick, went back and forth to the doctors for a long time and tried everything the doctor recommended. But his illness got worse, to the point that he was in agony.

    In the end we got so desperate that we asked for a referral. The doctor was reluctant, so we had to consult a private hospital. That’s when we found out there was a tumour. It took years from the onset of his illness to finally start cancer treatment.

    He used to be a man with a lot to live for, but in the end he was in so much pain that he withdrew from the family. He became angry that nobody had helped him sooner, and the legal team were able to give him the validation that he was desperately seeking. The NHS confirmed if they had done more, Nick would still be alive today.