What should a letter of claim for a medical negligence claim contain?

The Pre-Action Protocol for the Resolution of Clinical Disputes sets out details as to what a letter of claim for a medical negligence claim, or a clinical dispute, should contain.

The Protocol applies to all medical negligence claims and clinical disputes. It applies to all aspects of the health service, both primary and secondary, and applies to both the public and private sectors. 

A Claimant is, however, allowed to commence Court proceedings without complying with the Protocol if, by reason of complying with it, his claim may be time-barred and/ or the patient’s position needs to be protected by early issue.

What are the requirements of the Protocol?

Claimants are encouraged to use the template letter of claim which is annexed to the Protocol. In any event, the letter of claim should contain sufficient information to enable the healthcare provider to investigate the claim and put an initial valuation on the claim. Specifically the letter of claim should include the following information:

Information about the Claimant

The letter of claim should state the full name and address of the Claimant and his date of birth.

The facts of the case

The letter of claim should contain a clear summary of the facts and events giving rise to the claim including the alleged adverse outcome of the medical treatment and the date or dates of the allegedly negligent treatment. It should give an outline of what happened and, where relevant, it should provide details of any relevant treatments given to the patient by other healthcare providers. 

In complex cases a chronology of the relevant events should be provided. This is particularly the case where a patient has been treated by more than one healthcare provider.

The basis of the claim

The letter of claim should set out the main allegations of negligence and how it is alleged the healthcare provider caused the injuries suffered by the patient.

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For more information on:

  • The patient’s injuries
  • Financial loss suffered
  • Investigations carried out
  • Documents
  • Request for medical records
  • Offers to settle
  • Expert evidence
  • Alternative dispute resolution