When feeling unwell, the first healthcare professionals we usually turn to are our general practitioners (GPs). We expect our doctors to recognise and diagnose our symptoms and provide the best available treatment so that we can return to a healthy state as soon as possible.
GPs should always maintain a reasonable standard of care and be able to assess whether they can treat your condition or you should be referred to a specialist. Failure to give a proper examination, diagnose an illness or refer patients for further investigation can have severe and sometimes fatal consequences.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury or your condition worsened due to the negligence of your GP, you might be entitled to make a GP negligence claim. A professional solicitor can let you know whether you have a valid claim and what compensation you might expect to receive.
If you have a valid case with a fair chance of success, your solicitor will offer you a no win no fee agreement. This way, you can claim the compensation you deserve without having to worry about upfront solicitor fees or legal costs.
Can I make a GP negligence claim?
The easiest way to find out whether you could make a GP negligence claim is by seeking legal advice. A free consultation with a solicitor will help them understand the circumstances of your injury and your chances of winning compensation.
As a general rule, a compensation claim should be possible if:
- You realised you suffered an injury or the worsening of a condition in the past three years
- Your GP was negligent in their duty of care towards you, causing your injury
It is, however, unrealistic to expect doctors to get it right all the time. Therefore, not every mistake a GP might make is considered negligence. Some of the questions a medical negligence solicitor will consider when assessing your case are:
- Was the care you received below the medical standard accepted in the field?
- Did you suffer an injury as a direct result of your care or treatment?
- Did you suffer a significant personal and financial loss as a result?
Before starting legal proceedings, you should also consider making a formal complaint against your GP. You have the right to have your complaint properly investigated and receive a written response about the outcome of the investigation.
A complaint response may offer you an explanation about why your injury occurred, what can be done to rectify it and, usually, an apology for the damage you suffered. The response can also help establish if you could make a GP negligence claim by offering insight into what caused your injury.
You can usually make a complaint within 12 months after suffering or becoming aware of an injury. You can file the complaint even if you have started legal proceedings, and this may provide further proof and understanding of what went wrong with your treatment.
What is GP negligence?
GPs are usually the front line of medical care and play a crucial role in providing care and treatment to patients. They have a duty to act as a competent and skilful doctor with the same level of training would do in the same circumstances.
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) offers guidelines that set the standard of care GPs must follow when providing treatment and referrals. If your GP failed to do something within their duty or acted in a way they should not have, they will likely be seen as negligent.
To make a successful GP negligence claim, you need clear evidence that your doctor provided substandard care, causing an avoidable injury. This involves working with a medicolegal expert to prove:
- Breach of duty – you need to prove that your GP did not exercise a reasonable standard of care, knowledge and skill when they treated you. Your solicitor will consult with an independent expert and the NICE guidelines to prove a breach of duty.
- Causation – you need relevant evidence that your doctor’s actions caused your injury or the worsening of your condition. If your GP breached their duty of care towards you without causing any harm, you do not have a valid medical negligence claim.
- Damages – you need relevant proof of your injuries and any related financial losses and expenses you want to claim compensation for.
GPs are expected to have a broad knowledge of medicine in order to provide an adequate diagnosis, treatment or specialist referral when necessary. GPs must be able to make the correct decision about the severity of a condition and the need for further investigations or urgent treatment.
Your doctor should also consider your medical and family history whenever they carry out an examination. They must explain any diagnosis, treatment and medication they prescribed, along with possible side effects and outcomes and arrange a follow-up appointment, especially if your symptoms persist.
Failure to provide the correct diagnosis, treatment or specialist referral may result in unnecessary and avoidable injuries. In extreme situations, GP negligence can also lead to the wrongful death of a patient.
If you believe your injury was due to substandard care, you might be entitled to GP negligence compensation. To find out if you have a valid claim, call 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation with a legal adviser.
What are the most common types of GP negligence?
According to the latest GP patient survey carried out by the Social Research Institute, 83% of individuals have a good overall experience with their GP, and 96% of patients trust their healthcare professional.
Your GP is often the first doctor you see when feeling ill. If they fail to correctly diagnose and treat your condition, this can have devastating consequences on your health and wellbeing. The most common types of GP negligence include:
- Prescription errors can have severe and even fatal consequences and include:
- You received the wrong medication for your condition
- Your GP kept you on medicine for too long
- You had an allergic reaction to the drug you were prescribed
- You were prescribed a combination of medicine that should not be taken together
- Your doctor failed to warn you about the risks and side effects of the treatment they prescribed
- Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of a condition can have severe consequences. Failure to recognise a set of symptoms that indicate a severe condition and diagnosing it as a more trivial illness can sometimes even be fatal.
- A late diagnosis can cause unnecessary suffering and a prolonged recovery time. In the worse cases, your disease could progress to a point where it is no longer treatable.
- Failure to arrange a follow-up visit and assess the need for further investigations and treatment.
- Failure to arrange or interpret basic investigative tests. Abnormal blood tests or scans can indicate a severe underlying problem such as cancer or an infection. An incorrect assessment or your results can lead to the avoidable worsening of your condition and the necessity for more aggressive treatment.
- Injuries caused by your GP, such as a needlestick injury or an accidental cut.
- Failure to refer you to a specialist for further investigations or not making an urgent referral request and putting your symptoms down to stress or hormones. Such an error can lead to unnecessary pain and suffering and might cause the worsening of your condition.
- Failure to give you a proper examination and sufficiently investigate your symptoms. Your GP should be aware of certain red flag symptoms and not dismiss them as minor conditions.
- Failure to take your medical and family history into account.
Any of these errors and others not listed here could have a long-term or permanent impact on your health and wellbeing and might entitle you to make a GP negligence claim. Medical negligence claims can be particularly complex, so it is best to seek legal advice in order to secure the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.
For a free consultation with a legal adviser, call 0800 678 1410. They can let you know if you may be eligible to make a claim and can answer any questions you may have.
How do I make a compensation claim against my GP?
If you or a loved one suffered an injury or your condition worsened due to the negligence of your GP, you might be entitled to compensation. You can make a GP negligence claim either against the NHS or a private doctor. Their insurer will represent them during the claim and award you the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.
If you decide to claim compensation, you should contact a medical negligence solicitor as soon as possible. They will offer you a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your injury and get a comprehensive idea about the case.
If your solicitor believes you have a valid claim with a fair chance of success, they will start to investigate the circumstances of your injury. They will request all your medical records and work with a medicolegal expert to establish if your GP breached their duty of care, causing you harm.
You can support your claim by helping to gather further relevant evidence, such as:
- Photographs of your injuries, when applicable
- Your detailed statement about the care you received, how you were injured, and how this affected your life
- Contact details of any witnesses to your injury, including friends and family
- A medical report from an independent expert that has specialist knowledge in the field relevant to your treatment
- Evidence of any financial losses and expenses you incurred because of the GP’s negligence
After building the case, your solicitor will send a letter of claim to your GP, informing them of your allegations of negligence. They will have a limited amount of time to investigate your claim and send you a letter of response.
If your GP admits they were negligent in their duty of care towards you, you can negotiate a settlement. If they deny responsibility or you cannot reach a settlement, your solicitor will issue court proceedings. This does not automatically mean you will have to attend court, as negotiations will continue up until the trial date. In fact, more than 95% of all claims settle out of court.
How much compensation could a GP negligence claim be worth?
Every personal injury claim is unique, making it hard to state a precise compensation award you might receive if your case is successful. The worth of your claim will largely depend on several factors, including:
- The type and extent of the injury you suffered
- How the injury affected your job and personal life
- Your recovery prospects
- Any financial losses you incurred due to the negligent treatment
At the beginning of your claim, your solicitor will take into account the many ways in which your injury affected your life to calculate a suitable compensation award. This will usually cover:
Special damages awarded for the financial losses and expenses related to the injury, such as:
- Medical costs, such as medication and treatments
- Rehabilitation costs
- Costs of care and assistance with daily tasks
- Travel expenses to and from the hospital or other medical appointment
- Mobility or hearing aids
- Costs of adapting your home or vehicle to accommodate your disability
- Lost wages, if you had to take time off work
- Any other related out of pocket expenses that you can account for
General damages awarded for your pain, suffering and loss of amenity, including:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional and psychological trauma
- Loss of consortium
- Loss or impairment of physical or mental capacity
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Decreased life quality
- Reduced life expectancy
- Loss of prospects and enjoyment of life
- Inability to pursue a hobby
- Social life disturbances
The compensation award for special damages is calculated relatively straightforwardly by summing up all the financial expenses incurred or expected in the future. It is not that easy to calculate a suitable award for subjective personal losses, pain and suffering. However, the Judicial College offers extensive guidelines that solicitors and courts use when negotiating a settlement. According to the Judicial College guidelines, you could be awarded:
- £1,000 to £200,000 for pain and suffering, depending on the severity
- £102,890 to £132,040 for deafness caused by negligence
- £60,000 to £100,000 for severe injuries to internal organs
- £8,550 to £28,240 for scarring
- £860 to £3,710 for a mild allergic reaction to the wrong medication
- £36,060 to £49,270 for severe reactions to wrong medication
- £31,950 to £95,850 for failure to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy resulting in infertility
After discussing the details of your case, a solicitor can give you a better estimate of your compensation prospects. For a free consultation with a legal adviser, call 0800 678 1410 or fill out our online claim form to receive a call back.
Is there a time limit to sue my GP for negligence?
If you suffered an injury due to the substandard care of your GP, you usually have three years to bring a formal claim against them. The three-year countdown starts on the date of the medical accident or the day you became aware of your doctor’s negligence.
There are several exceptions to the three-year limitation date, which include:
- If the patient is a child, a parent or another litigation friend can claim GP negligence compensation on their behalf at any time before they turn 18. Afterwards, the victim has another three years, until their 21st birthday, to make their own claim.
- A litigation friend could make a claim on behalf of an individual who lacks the mental capacity to understand the claiming process at any time, regardless of when the negligence occurred. This applies to claimants that suffer from:
- High levels of stress, such as is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Severe sleep deprivation
- Intellectual disabilities such as Down syndrome
- Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease
- Severe mental disorders like schizophrenia or major depression
- If the GP’s negligence caused a brain injury, the three-year countdown is suspended until the victim regains the capacity to conduct legal proceedings.
Regardless of what limitation date might apply to your unique situation, it is always advisable to seek legal advice as soon as possible. Medical negligence claims can be very complex, and it can take a lot of time to gather relevant evidence to build a strong case.
If a claim is not brought within the time limit, the case becomes statute-barred, and you can no longer claim for compensation. Furthermore, most solicitors will not take on a claim with less than six months left to the limitation date.
Can I sue my GP using a no win no fee service?
The no win no fee service was introduced in 1995 to give all claimants easy access to legal help after suffering an injury due to someone else’s negligence. Your solicitor will provide you with a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your accident and the damages you suffered.
If they believe you have a valid GP negligence claim with a fair chance of success, you will be offered a conditional fee agreement, the technical name for no win no fee. This means your solicitor will take on your case without asking for any upfront fees. And if your claim is unsuccessful, you do not have to pay them anything.
Furthermore, a no win no fee claim involves your solicitor taking out an After the Event (ATE) insurance policy on your behalf, usually before starting legal proceedings. This provides full legal expenses coverage if you lose the case, meaning you will not have to pay:
- The defendant’s solicitor fees
- The court costs incurred by you and the other side
- Medical and police reports
- Barrister and expert witness fees
By claiming GP negligence compensation on a no win no fee basis, you only have to pay anything if your case is successful. The cost that will be deducted from your compensation award is called a success fee. This will be explained to you in detail before starting the claim, and it cannot exceed 25% of the compensation you receive for general damages and past financial losses.
You can find out whether you have a valid no win no fee GP negligence claim by calling 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation with a legal adviser. Or, if you would prefer to receive a call back, you can arrange this by entering your contact details into our simple online claim form.