Was it medical negligence, or just one of those things?

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Peter Rigby, Director of Medical Neglience

NHS Medical Negligence Statistics Hub

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NHS Negligence Claims Statistics

The NHS has been a valued institution in the UK since 1948. Today around 1 million people will use GP services each day, and nearly 45,000 people will attend an A&E department. Despite the fact that the NHS remains one the safest and well renowned healthcare systems, with so many people accessing the service, it is sadly inevitable that errors will happen resulting in negligence claims being put forward.

The medical negligence bill of settled claims for the NHS now sits at over £2 billion per year, with NHS legal costs making up over £150 million of this total. NHS negligence claims are therefore still very much prominent today. 

We have compiled key statistics surrounding medical negligence in the NHS from trusted sources and from the NHS reports themselves. The more that we understand about medical negligence within the NHS, the better chance we have of reducing the amount of errors that can arise and help us to further support our National Health Service. So it is crucial to be aware of the facts.

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NHS Negligence Figures Then and Now

Data from the NHS Resolution report reveals that the ‘cost of harm,’ now referred to as the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST) cost of claims arising from incidents, throughout 2021/2022, is estimated at £13.3 billion. 60% of this figure is made up by claims related to maternity negligence.

The cost of settled negligence claims in 2021/22 sits at a reported £2.4 billion which has increased from the previous years data where, in 2020/21, this figure sat at £2.2 billion. Also, since 2006/2007, the cost of medical negligence cases for the NHS has increased significantly. In 2007/2008, the total cost was £582 million overall.

Due to these rising figures, the UK Government has set out to put a cap on legal costs pertaining to medical negligence cases. They plan to achieve this by creating a more streamlined system for lower value clinical negligence cases, ensuring that legal fees are proportionate and that the process is as efficient as possible. This could save the Government £500 million in legal fees.


Court Proceedings and NHS Negligence 

The NHS have reported that, in 2021/22, 77% of claims were settled without court proceedings. This has gradually increased over the past few years, with 74.7% of claims settled without formal proceedings in 2020/21 and 71.5% in 2019/20 showing a continued effort to settle claims without the involvement of a court.


 Claim Type Statistics

According to the latest NHS Resolution report (2021/2022), the top three claim types making up the highest volume of clinical negligence claims from the hospital scheme included: obstetrics claims, emergency medicine and orthopaedic surgery. Their percentages can be seen below: 

  • Obstetrics Claims (12% of overall volume)
  • Emergency Medicine Claims (12% of overall volume)
  • Orthopaedic Surgery Claims (12% of overall volume)

Of the three claim types, obstetrics claims also cost the NHS the highest amount, with 62% of the annual cost being driven by these claims.


Maternity-related Claims

In 2021/22, maternity-related claims made up the largest proportion of the overall cost of harm. This is an area that has been highlighted by the governing bodies within the NHS and has been addressed by the Resolution who have included maternity claims as a core focus to improve on in their three-year strategy.

Failure To Diagnose or Wrong Diagnosis Statistics 

The NHS also recently released data surrounding the most common injuries occurring from a failure to diagnose or a delayed diagnosis that resulted in a payout. The data concludes that the most common primary injury was unnecessary pain with 976 claims and the most costly injury was fatality with a total of £59,571,839 in damages paid and £7,556,495 NHS legal costs.

Source: NHS Resolution

Settled Claims

There was a reported increase in the volume of clinical negligence claims and incidents reported throughout 2021/22 with this increasing to 15,078 claims

Of the 16,484 settled clinical and non-clinical claims in 2021/22, 48.6% of these settled without damages paid. These settled claims include: claims that have been agreed upon and have ongoing payments being made and also claims where damages have been agreed or denied but costs have not yet been confirmed. In 2020/21, there were 15,674 settled claims of a similar nature so this has increased from the last reporting period.

Low Value vs High Value Claims

A low value claim is considered to be a claim between £1,001 and £25,000. This is where the majority of medical negligence claims will sit. 

The highest value cases are worth millions of pounds. One of the largest medical negligence payouts recorded was £37 million after failures in maternity care led to severe disabilities and the child needing round the clock care.

As you can see from the table below, in 2006/2007 there were 2189 cases awarded a low value settlement. This rose to 3855 in the period from 2021/2022. Cases reaching upwards of £3.5 million have increased nearly eight fold, with 42 recorded cases in 2006/2007 and 364 in 2021/2022.

Notification Year
Damages value band 2006/07 2021/22
Nil 683 1,941
£1-£1,000 106 145
£1,001-£25,000 2,189 3,855
£25,001-£50,000 905 3,709
£50,001-£100,000 556 2,070
£100,001-£250,000 511 1,692
£250,001-£500,000 184 658
£500,001-£1,000,000 72 402
£1,000,001-£2,000,000 54 168
£2,000,001-£3,499,999 124 74
£3,500,000+ 42 364
Total 5,426 15,078

The above list of figures and statistics aims to demonstrate the current and previous position of NHS Negligence claims including costs, volume and types. All information can be found on the NHS Resolution, including their current and previous reports.

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Meet our medical negligence team

Peter Rigby

Peter Rigby
Director of Medical Negligence

Peter leads the Medical Negligence Serious Injury department, which now boasts some of our most knowledgeable, dedicated and hardworking team members.

Peter is dedicated to supporting victims of catastrophic medical negligence injuries and endeavours to provide a clear and coherent approach to claims. He recognises the effects serious injuries can have and therefore ensures his customers’ need for support is met. Peter also has a vast amount of experience working with customers who have been injured abroad and is able to act under international law to provide the best outcomes.

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Christian Beadell

Christian Beadell
Partner, Head of Strategy and Legal Operations

Christian is Head of Medical Negligence at Patient Claim Line and has specialised in clinical negligence claims since qualifying in 1998; having dealt with a wide variety of claims throughout his career. He is also featured in the Legal 500 as a recommended claimant solicitor in the North West.

Christian qualified as a solicitor in 1998, specialising in clinical negligence. From 2010 onward he has had a particular interest in gynaecological and urogynaecological claims, having represented several hundred claimants in the George Rowland Litigation against the Liverpool Women’s and Aintree Hospitals. This investigated the treatment given to women in the Merseyside area over several decades, and in particular focused on the introduction and development of mesh into the UK in both the treatment of stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. The development of this area involved pursuing claims under a unique ADR protocol with the NHS and also looking to develop the current thinking on the valuation of compensation for complex urinary symptoms. He has successfully recovered hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation on behalf of my clients.

Christian was also involved in setting up and chairing a Claimant Support Group for those involved in the Rowland litigation, which provided a discussion forum for the many women who were left isolated and damaged by negligent gynaecological treatment. He now co-ordinates the firm’s mesh claims and has delivered training and commented extensively on the medico-legal implications of urogynaecological / mesh complications. He is a member of APIL, Liverpool Law Society and Legal 500 recommended.

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Francesca Paul

Francesca Paul
Associate Solicitor

Francesca Paul is an Associate, Senior Solicitor and Team Leader within the Clinical Negligence Department.  She is one of the driving Solicitors in the Group Litigation Team dealing with this niche and specialist area of work that Fletchers undertakes.   

Francesca previously worked in Nottingham, dealing with Group Action work.  She now works at Fletchers, bringing with her those years of experience heading up a team of 10 people.  Francesca is involved in the early identification of potential new Group Litigation Work and analyses information from the collective pool of new enquiries into the business, of which there are hundreds per week looking for hot spots or recurrent issues which might suggest a potential pool of Claimants.   

One of the highlights for Francesca and her team is that they have successfully recovered over a million pounds in compensation for clients who have received treatment from a single orthopaedic surgeon who was operating in the Colchester area.  Her role requires a specific set of skills, patience and a forensic approach to detail whilst being able to see the wider picture.   

Francesca has previously acted for a claimant in a case that reached the Supreme Court in the case of NA v Nottinghamshire County Council. 

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Sion Wynne

Sion Wynne
Senior Solicitor

Sion is a team leader and senior solicitor with many years’ experience in dealing with a wide range of medical specialisms and different types of injuries. He is an experienced medical negligence solicitor and manages a team of lawyers within our department.

Sion joined Fletchers in 2018 as a Team Leader in the Medical Negligence Department. Throughout his 24 year legal career, he has specialised in conducting medical negligence claims on behalf of Claimants, previously working for other highly ranked leading firms in the field.

He has undertaken claims covering the full spectrum of medical specialisms, clinical settings, categories of defendant and types of negligent medical care and treatment.
These include high value and complex maximum severity cases, such as those involving limb amputations and permanent neurological injuries.

Sion is experienced at representing bereaved families at inquests and has a particular interest in fatal accident claims.


Notable Cases

JI v Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Trust: £1.25m recovered for client left paraplegic after spinal anaesthesia.

RS v Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: £150,000 recovered for client in respect of a failure to recognise complications after a kidney transplant, where her father was the donor.

JN v MA: £100,000 recovered for a client who suffered 2 years persistent pain and disability after knee replacement surgery undertaken as a private patient.

CS v Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust: £400,000 recovered for a child who sustained Erb’s palsy during her delivery.

WO’C (Deceased) v Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; £450,000 recovered for the family of the deceased who died as a result of a delay in diagnosing a brain tumour.


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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.

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