Can I Make a Medical Negligence Claim During the Pandemic?
20 January 2021
The impact of Covid-19 has been devastating for everyone, not only for the families and friends of those who have sadly lost their lives to the disease, but also to those who have had non-covid related medical appointments, scans and operations cancelled due to increased pressure on the NHS.
It is yet to be seen what the future consequences will be for those who have missed vital treatment and appointments for non-covid related medical conditions. True Solicitors explain what the impact of Covid-19 could have for patients in the UK, and how the claims process may differ.
Is it possible to make a claim against the NHS during the pandemic?
It is possible to make a claim against the NHS or private medical practice during the pandemic. Whilst it cannot be underestimated how hard medical professionals are working during this time, if avoidable mistakes have been made, which have led to your condition being misdiagnosed or progressing you could be eligible to make a claim.
Will there be any changes to making a medical negligence claim during the pandemic?
Most of the aspects to making a medical negligence claim remain the same during the pandemic. For example the time limit for bringing a claim is still 3 years from the date in which you received the negligent treatment – or 3 years from when you became aware of it.
There are however some differences brought through the Covid-19 Clinical Negligence Protocol 2020 – an agreement that encourages medical negligence solicitors and the NHS Resolution to work together in a positive way. This involves making the claims process as streamline as possible, and covid safe, through encouraging medical examinations, court hearings and settlement meetings via video conferencing i.e. Zoom, Teams, Skype.
If you have been unable to work as a consequence of the negligent treatment that you received, this will be factored into the value of your claim. However, due the national lockdown you may not have been able to work in any event.
Care and assistance
Due to the pandemic you may not have been able to get access to the care and assistance required from outside help in order to aid your recovery. Your solicitor will take this into account when valuing your claim.
What can I do if my treatment or diagnosis has been delayed due to covid-19?
The consequences of delayed diagnosis or treatment can be devastating. In the worst case scenario a delayed diagnosis can make the difference between life and death.
Covid-19 has particularly impacted cancer patients, with treatment and diagnosis being cancelled or delayed. Many people have even been too afraid to seek medical attention in fear of catching Covid from a hospital, or increasing the burden on the NHS.
Some cancer patients have been forced to wait longer than the recommended 62 days for treatment or a diagnosis. Those already on a treatment pathway have had to wait over 31 days from the date a decision is made to treat their cancer. Pre-pandemic the recommended waiting time was only one month.
A lot of patients have also not been provided with clear guidance on when their treatment will resume and who they should contact in the event of their illness changing, or getting worse.
It is not only cancer patients who have had their treatment impacted by the pandemic. Many elective surgeries have been cancelled due to staff being relocated to ease the pressure on ICU, or through staff shortages due to medical professionals contracting covid themselves.
There may be a rise in medical negligence claims, brought by non-covid patients who have:
- Not received treatment due to covid patients taking priority.
- Suffered further due to delays in their treatment or diagnosis.
In a pre-covid world such delays and cancellations of treatment would be deemed unacceptable, however the unprecedented pressure on the NHS, resulting in staff shortages and the need to reallocate staff to different departments, will be taken into consideration by the court when considering liability.
What should I do if I have suffered due to medical negligence?
If you’ve suffered from an illness or injury, as a result of medical negligence, within the last three years, you may be eligible to make a claim.
We offer our clients:
- A free initial, no-obligation assessment
- No Win, No Fee agreements
- Expertise in handling complicated medical negligence cases