Legal advice

If you or your relative/friend has become critically ill very quickly, you may feel like you haven’t received enough information. Often people haven’t understood what’s happening or why it has happened. If this is how you feel, there are a number of options to consider.


In the first instance, you may want to raise your concerns, informally, with the medical staff and give them the opportunity to address your concerns. If you arrange to meet them, make sure you write all your questions down beforehand. Once you’ve had this meeting, you may feel fully satisfied with the care you or your relative/friend has received, or you may want to take your issues further.

You’re under no obligation to make a complaint informally before you make a formal complaint. However, if you believe something has gone wrong with the healthcare provided to you or a loved one, it’s almost always best to discuss your concerns with the medical staff as soon as possible, especially if your main aim is to have something put right urgently.


The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) offer confidential advice, support and information on health-related matters. Every hospital has a PALS officer you can talk to – you can contact them by phoning the hospital or reach them through NHS Choices.

PALS basically provide a point of contact for patients, their families and carers. The help they offer is quite extensive – including information about the NHS’ complaints procedure, how to get independent help if you want to make a complaint, and they also signpost to support groups outside the NHS. In addition, they help to improve the overall NHS service by listening to your concerns and suggestions and feeding this back into the system.

Legal advice

If you’re considering taking legal action, we have a panel of carefully selected solicitors who may help you get the specific support or advice you need. If you’d like to hear John McCarthy’s sepsis story and his first-hand experience of working with a law firm please click here. Details of our legal partners can be found after the FAQ’s which they have compiled below:

Legal Panel FAQs

Is there a difference between things going wrong and negligence? Answer

Yes. Medical outcomes are not always good. Care is only negligent if it falls below a reasonable standard. What is reasonable depends on who is treating you. For instance, different standards are expected of GPs, A+E doctors and general physicians. All should have access to and follow the sepsis screening tools though.

How do I know whether care was reasonable? Answer

Speak to one of the specialist solicitors on our legal panel. They have experience in working out what sort of things may be negligent. If they can assist with a claim, they will probably consult a medical expert.

If there was negligence, will a claim succeed? Answer

If your solicitor can prove that your care was negligent, it will still be necessary to show that the negligence caused harm. This means demonstrating what the outcome would have been had you been correctly managed and comparing it with the actual outcome. This can be complex. Again, your solicitor will probably need to obtain medical expert evidence.

I have been seriously injured. How can a claim really help me? Answer

The aim of compensation is to put you in the position you would have been in but for the negligence. A claim cannot restore your health. But it may help overcome some of the restrictions you face because of your condition. For instance, it may be possible to make good your lost earnings, fund private medical treatment, pay for care and assistance at home and improve or provide you with more suitable accommodation. For people who have suffered amputation, it may fund top-of-the-range prosthetics which are not available on the NHS.

Is it wrong to claim against the NHS? Answer

We all recognise that the NHS has limited funds. However, a decent society ensures that people harmed by negligence have the right to be compensated to make good their loss. The NHS earmarks a sum of money every year to meet claims. So claims do not harm patient care. We all need to learn from mistakes and bringing a claim helps focus attention on them. Our solicitors try where possible to help ensure that lessons are learned and changes can be implemented so that the same does not happen to others. That is one of the reasons they work closely with the UK Sepsis Trust.

Does it cost a lot to bring a claim? Can I afford it? Answer

Most claims are funded under conditional fee agreements (sometimes called ‘no win no fee’ agreements). These normally mean that you do not have to fund your claim as it progresses and if the claim fails, you pay nothing. This means that there is no risk. If the claim succeeds you make a contribution to costs from your compensation. Most solicitors cap that contribution to ensure that you retain most of any compensation awarded.

Would I have to go through a trial? Answer

Very few claims go to trial. Many are settled without the need to issue court proceedings. Even when it’s necessary to issue proceedings, most are eventually settled by negotiation.

Can I settle a claim by mediation? Answer

Claims against NHS Trusts (who are responsible for hospitals) are backed by NHS Resolution. NHS Resolution is often willing to try to resolve contested claims by mediation. Even if mediation is not used, there are other ways to resolve disputes by negotiation.

What is the time limit to bring a claim? Answer

A claim must be brought within 3 years of the negligent event taking place. In some circumstances the 3 year period runs from a later date when you discover that an action may have caused loss. However, the law here is complex. Bringing a claim also involves a lot of preparation by your solicitors. If you think you may have a claim, we strongly advise you to consult one of our panel solicitors sooner rather than later.

I don’t know if I have a claim: Would I be wasting your time if I phoned you? Answer

No. Please phone one of our panel solicitors. They will be happy to help and offer support and advice.


Legal Partners


Contact: Rankeshwar Batta, ; Ann Houghton, Senior Associate Solicitor,
Phone: 0121 212 7476


Contact: Paul Sankey ; Caroline Frean,
Phone: 0800 044 8488


Contact: Sarah Coles (Partner) or Lucy Macklin (Medical Negligence Specialist)

Phone: 08000 23 22 33


Contact: Nicola Stanwix, Charities and Partnerships Team Leader,
Phone: 01704 503126


The Clinical Negligence Claim Process
When is a Medical Mistake Negligent?
What Harm Has Negligence Caused?