Medical negligence, or clinical negligence, is when there is a breach of duty by a healthcare professional or institute, leading to avoidable harm of a patient.

In the UK, we are extremely fortunate to have access to an excellent healthcare system. Most treatment delivered by medical professionals in the NHS, and in private establishments, is of the highest standard. However, mistakes can and do happen, and there can be significant and devastating consequences for patients.

According to NHS Resolution, the number of clinical negligence cases in 2018/19 remained at about the same level as the previous year at 10,678.

What is classed as medical negligence?

An incorrect diagnosis, delayed or missed diagnosis, incorrect or unnecessary treatment or surgical errors are all types of medical negligence.

what is medical negligence

Below we detail some of the areas in which clinical negligence can occur as well as the number of claims made for each specialism:

  • Obstetrics: There were 1,076 claims brought against the NHS in 2018/2019 for mistakes made in obstetrics. Claims in this field of medicine can include birth injury claims, cerebral palsy claims, and childbirth tear claims.
  • Gynaecology: 569 claims were made by gynaecology patients. We support patients with vaginal mesh claims as well as many other gynaecology claims.
  • Emergency medicine: 1,409 claims were made by emergency care patients in the last year.
  • Orthopaedic surgery: There were 1,262 orthopaedic claims made during 2018/2019.
  • General surgery: 927 general operations claims commenced in 2018/2019.
  • General medicine: Medical negligence in general medicine led to 498 claims in 2018/2019. General medicine claims can include those associated with doctor negligence and hospital complaints.
  • Radiology: There were 287 radiology claims during the last year.
  • Urology: 319 urology medical negligence claims were brought in 2018/2019.
  • Psychiatry / mental health: 312 cases of medical negligence in psychiatry or mental health were brought against the NHS during the past year.
  • Gastroenterology: 259 medical negligence cases in 2018/2019 related to gastroenterology.
  • Other: There were 3,660 other medical negligence claims which didn’t fall into the above categories. These can include rectal mesh claims, group action claims as well as many others.

The NHS has committed itself to a duty of candour – that means it owns up to its errors and publishes data about the volume of medical negligence claims each year to ensure transparency and to improve services for patients.

While the private sector is monitored they don’t have the same level of scrutiny as the NHS; in layman’s terms they ‘mark their own homework’. Therefore, it is very difficult to monitor the level of medical negligence taking place until there is a major incident such as Paterson or a recall such as Habib Rahman. That is why we campaign for private establishments to put patients before profits and fight to ensure that private healthcare companies are held to the same standards and obligations as the NHS.


How to claim for medical negligence


If you have been injured as a result of medical negligence, it is important to get support from an expert medical negligence lawyer as quickly as possible. To talk to us about making a medical negligence claim, contact our specialist team on 0800 0 224 224 or, alternatively, click below to start a claim.