Clinical Negligence Scotland, Making a Claim - Digby Brown
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Clinical negligence claims in Scotland

Fortunately most medical and dental treatment is carried out well.  Sometimes, however, treatment is not performed as expected or mistakes happen. Clinical or medical negligence occurs when treatment falls below the acceptable standard and causes unnecessary illness, injury or death.  If there is clinical negligence, it may be possible for you to seek compensation for the consequences you have suffered.

Treatment may have been provided through the NHS or through a private healthcare provider and can involve hospital doctors and staff, surgeons, GP’s, dentists or other specialists providing healthcare.

Legal claim for medical or dental negligence

Unlike many personal injury cases, establishing clinical negligence is extremely complicated  and the decision as to whether to pursue a legal claim should not be taken lightly.

In most cases when sub standard treatment appears to have taken place, it is helpful to seek an explanation and answers through the NHS complaints procedure described below. This can help to clarify important aspects of your care and enables us to advise you more fully.

If you have already made a complaint and still feel that you wish to discuss matters further, please complete a simple Clinical Negligence form. The more information you provide the easier it is for us to advise you. If you would rather speak to someone directly about your circumstances then please call us on 0333 200 5925, however we will still require you to make a formal complaint directly.

Making an NHS complaint

Often clients contact us because they want an explanation for what has happened to them and an answer to questions that they have. Every NHS organisation has a complaints procedure and this can usually be found on the organisation’s website.

You can find out more making a complaint about the healthcare in Scotland on NHS Inform. To make a complaint, you will need to contact the complaints department at your local NHS board which you can find on NHS Inform. The NHS is obliged to acknowledge receipt of your complaint and to investigate it in a timely manner.

Complaints about NHS services must be either:

  • Within 6 months of the date on which the matter which is the subject of the complaint occurred, or
  • Within 6 months of the date on which the matter came to the notice of the complainant;
  • But normally no later than 12 months from the event.

Complaints received after this period may be investigated if the Chief Executive accepts that it would have been unreasonable for the complainant to make it earlier and where it is still possible to investigate the facts.

Once you have made a complaint to the NHS, find out what happens next.

To succeed in a claim for medical or dental negligence

To succeed in a claim for medical or dental negligence it is necessary to prove that the treatment that was provided fell below the appropriate standard of care. That standard is judged by the standard of other professionals practising in the same field. It is therefore necessary in every case to obtain an opinion from one or more medical or dental experts.

It is also necessary to prove that the unacceptable treatment was the cause of an adverse outcome and what that was. This can be very complex. Experts reports will always be required.

Instructing a specialist medical negligence solicitor

Medical and dental negligence cases are amongst the most complex cases you will find. It is important to instruct a solicitor you know is fully equipped for the task. That means instructing a specialist clinical negligence solicitor with a track record.

Chambers Legal Guide and the Legal 500 Guide review law firms in Scotland and can confirm whether the firm you wish to instruct is specialist in clinical negligence. The Law Society holds a register of solicitors accredited in this field. You can access these publications free on the Internet.

Sue Grant is an accredited by the Law Society as a specialist clinical negligence lawyer. She is recognised as a “Leader in her field” by Chambers Legal Guide and is on the panel of AVMA (Action for Victims of Medical Accidents) and accredited by APIL (the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers). Sue heads an experienced team of four based across Digby Brown's Edinburgh and Glasgow offices. Digby Brown is consistently ranked Band 1 in Chambers Guide to the UK Legal Profession and Tier 1 in Legal 500.

Here to help

In certain circumstances we understand that speaking about what happened can be very difficult, specifically cases involving the complicated area of childbirth resulting in Cerebral Palsy or other birth related problems. You can find further help in Birth Injuries and Cerebral Palsy.

If you would like to talk to someone about your experience, or need expert advice on a possible claim, our medical negligence team can help. Please complete a simple Clinical Negligence form and give as much detail as you can. This will assist in our ability to fully understand your circumstances and best decide the next steps to be taken. This advice is, of course, free of charge.

Alternatively, if you think you may have been wrongly charged for continuing care costs after a serious injury, we would encourage you to get in touch with us at, giving brief details of your family's circumstances.

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