The UK’s Biggest Medical Negligence Payouts

As of 2018, the budget for NHS England sat at around £115 billion. The same year, 2% of this budget, or £2.4 billion, was spent on medical negligence claims. The amount set aside by the NHS increases year on year to compensate for a rising number of claims being made for negligence.

The UK has seen a rise in high-sum claims alongside a general increase in the volume of claims. Below are the three most expensive claims made against the NHS in history, setting a precedent for the amount one could receive in financial compensation.

The biggest medical compensation claim in the UK

The highest-profile case in UK medical negligence history came in 2020, when the correct maternity procedures and diagnosis were not followed during the birth of a child, resulting in the child incurring severe permanent brain damage.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust acknowledged mistakes following a procedure that failed to notice that the baby was in the breech position, which means being feet or bottom first. The delay in spotting this meant that he was deprived of oxygen longer than the safe threshold, leading to severe brain damage.

The parents made a compensation claim based on the negligence of the maternity staff, and a lengthy case resulted in financial compensation amounting to £37 million. The amount of compensation was calculated on the basis of the medication and care that the child will receive over their lifetime – including the need for two permanent carers, day and night.

According to NHS Resolution, the body that handles claims for compensation against the NHS, maternity accounted for half of the total value of claims made, though it only accounted for 10% of the total number of claims. Medical negligence at birth can have severe, long-lasting effects on an individual’s life, resulting in higher financial compensation.

Maternity mistake leads to millions in compensation

The second-highest compensation fee successfully claimed against the NHS was £27 million, in similar circumstances to the case above. In 2018, negligence during the delivery of a baby led to the boy suffering from severe brain damage from asphyxiation. The child still suffers from acute mental and physical disorders, which could have been avoided were it not for an error on the maternity staff’s behalf.

As such, the family sued the NHS for negligence, resulting in a lump sum being awarded, as well as an annual compensation fee, accommodating the child’s changing needs as he gets older. Making a claim against the NHS for negligence can be convoluted – for more information on the claims process, see our guide on medical negligence claims here.

Clinician injects glue instead of dye, sued for £24 million

In 2010, Great Ormond Street Hospital paid £24.2 million to the family of a ten-year-old girl, after she was injected with glue instead of medical dye. The clinician mistakenly injected the incorrect syringe, resulting in the child suffering from permanent, severe brain damage. Other symptoms of the negligence included blindness in one eye, as well as limited movement of her body.

Consequently, the child’s family sued the NHS for medical negligence, in a high-profile case that eventuated compensation for an initial £2.8 million, as well as annual payments of £383,000 up to the age of 19. From this age, payments will increase to £423,000 annually, until her death. Doctors have estimated that she may have a substantially reduced life expectancy, meaning that the total payments from this claim will amount to around £24 million if she reaches her mid-60s.

Can I make a compensation claim?

Medical negligence takes many forms, from misdiagnosis to a single act of clinical error. If you think you or a loved one has fallen victim to medical negligence, you should seek the expert advice of legal professionals who specialise in clinical compensation.

TS Solicitors have the  expertise which has helped many make successful claims following medical negligence, using our knowledge of the changing negligence conditions that allow for a successful claim to be made. To understand your options and see if you could be owed a significant amount in compensation, get in touch with us.

To speak to one of our legal team on a no obligation basis about your accident, our ‘No Win No Fee’ agreement and whether you might have a claim please call us 0161 945 3671 on  or alternatively fill out our short online form