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NHS: Negligence

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 148710, tabled on 1 June 2018

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department plans to review the three-year time limit on legal action for clinical negligence claims against the NHS.

Answered on

11 June 2018

There are no plans to review the three-year limit in medical negligence cases.

Under section 11 of the Limitation Act 1980 a patient is able to bring a claim for damages for clinical negligence against a trust or any other healthcare provider within three years from the date of injury. However, this can be longer if:

- the patient is a child, when the three year period only begins on his/her eighteenth birthday;

- the patient has a mental disorder within the meaning of the Mental Health Act 1983 so as to be incapable of managing his/ her own affairs, when the three year period is suspended; and

- there was an interval before the patient realised or could reasonably have found out that he/she had suffered a significant injury possibly related to his/her treatment.

The ‘date of knowledge’ of an injury could be a number of years after the treatment. In recognition that there may be some cases where the prescribed period is inadequate, the Limitation Act 1980 also gives the court discretion to disapply the limitation period in respect of claims for personal injuries when it considers it just and equitable to do so.

Answered by

Department of Health and Social Care