What Are Never Events And How Do I Claim Compensation?

By Stephen Parker. Last Updated 12th January 2023. This guide will explain and provide examples of what never events are and when you may be eligible to make a medical negligence claim. It will guide you on what to do if you have a valid claim, including what evidence you must gather to prove medical negligence.

Never events claims guide

Never events claims guide

When you seek medical care from any healthcare provider, you’re entitled to a minimum standard of care. If this standard is deviated from, and you’re harmed as a result, then you may be owed compensation.

Contact our advisors and they will give you free legal advice about whether you have grounds for a claim. It may be passed onto our panel of No Win No Fee solicitors who could help you begin the process of claiming.

For free legal advice on your claim, then contact our advisors now by: 

  • Calling us on the number above
  • Using our contact form
  • Speaking with someone at the live chat to the bottom right of this screen

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What Are Never Events?

The NHS defines never events as events that should be entirely avoidable, provided that the preventative measures that exist have been implemented. 

These events can happen as a result of medical negligence. Medical negligence transpires when medical professionals provide a lower than acceptable standard of care, causing unnecessary harm. 

By breaching their duty of care, medical professionals can cause harm to your health. In order to claim, you would need to show that this breach of duty of care caused you to suffer more than you would have if you had received an appropriate standard of care. 

It’s important to note that just because complications have arisen as a result of medical care does not mean that you can claim. In some cases, your health can decline as a result of medical treatment even when the right standard of care has been administered. For example, treatment like chemotherapy causes harm, but this is necessary for the treatment. 

However, all never events are examples of medical negligence. This is because they would not happen if healthcare providers administer the right level of care. 

If you believe you may have a medical negligence claim, then contact our advisors today for free legal advice. 

Never Event Statistics

The NHS regularly publishes data on never events that have occurred within their hospitals during certain periods of time. In a provisional data report covering the time between 1 April 2022 and 31 October 2022, 231 NHS never events were recorded. Out of all the months covered by the report, the month of May 2022 saw the most incidents considered never events occur. 44 such incidents were reported in this month alone.

On the list of never events reported, the most frequent that occurred in the covered period was instances of wrong-site surgery. These accounted for 103 of the reported incidents. This is followed by 58 reports of foreign objects being retained (left in a patient) after a procedure. 26 of the reports were for instances of wrong implants/prosthesis.

How Much Could I Get For Never Events?

The amount of compensation you could be awarded for a never event claim depends on your circumstances. A medical negligence claim can potentially be broken down into general and special damages. 

General damages cover the pain you’ve experienced due to the injury or worsening of your condition. The Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) provide guideline compensation brackets for a wide variety of injuries at differing levels of severity. The following table includes some of these brackets:

Injury CompensationNotes
Moderately Severe Brain Damage (b)£219,070 to £282,010Serious disability. Paralysis to limbs and, mental, intellect and personality impairment.
Moderate Brain Damage (c) (iii)£43,060 to £90,720Affect on concentration and memory, work ability reduced, minimal risk of epilepsy, depending on others is limited.
Minor Brain Damage (e)£2,210 to £12,770Brain damage is minimal. Compensation awarded depends on initial injury severity, recovery period length, lasting symptoms, headaches and extent of recovery.
Bowels (b)Up to £150,110Complete natural function loss. Colostomy dependent.
Arm Amputated at the Shoulder (i)Not less than £137,160Arm amputated at the shoulder.
Severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder£59,860 to £100,670Permanent effects preventing employment or performing in employment close to pre-trauma level. All life aspects are negatively impacted.
Complete Loss of Sight in One Eye (e)£49,270 to £54,830Risk of sympathetic ophthalmia. The upper bracket refers to scarring in the eye region not sufficient for a separate award.
Kidney (c)£30,770 to £44,880Loss of a kidney. Other remains undamaged.
Moderate Leg Injuries (iv)£27,760 to £39,200Complicated or multiple fractures and severe crushing injuries.
Mental Anguish£4,670Fearful of encroaching death/life expectancy reduction. Parents of young children suffering mental anguish for around 3 months.

In addition, you may be eligible to claim special damages as part of your medical negligence claim. Special damages cover the financial costs and losses incurred as a result of the harm you were caused. This could include:

  • Loss of income and future earnings
  • Travel expenses to and from medical appointments
  • Child care costs

If you have any questions about what can be included in never event compensation, get in touch with our advisors today. If you have a valid claim, you could be connected with a No Win No Fee solicitor from our panel. 

Examples Of How Inexcusable Medical Errors Happen

Some examples of never events include:

  • Wrong-site surgery – Going into surgery to have the wrong skin lesion removed could mean that the original problem remains and the procedure that was performed (and therefore the associated recovery) was unnecessary.
  • Retained foreign object post-procedure – During an operation, a surgical tool might be left at the site of the operation. You may then need another operation to have this removed. 
  • Wrong implant/prosthesis – The incorrect knee implant could be inserted, causing damage to the joint and requiring additional surgery to rectify. 
  • Medication administered via the wrong route – If medication is given in the wrong way (for example, intravenous medication is given orally) then it may not be effective. This could cause the condition to worsen more than it would have if the medication had been administered the right way. 

Proving Never Events

After your injury, if you want to file a medical negligence claim, you must prove that your health providers breached their duty of care. Some examples of evidence you could provide in support of your claim include:

  • Medical records – Seek the help you need after your never even to ensure your wellbeing. Any medical records generated as a result can contribute as evidence to your claim.
  • Witness details – Collect the contact information of witnesses, so a legal professional can collect statements at a later date.
  • Photographs of the injury and the never event – Catalogue pictures of the injury and the never event if possible, such as a foreign object left inside your body.

Something called the Bolam Test can be used to determine liability in medical negligence claims. A panel of medical professionals from the appropriate area of medicine will be asked to determine whether or not the care provided was of the right level. 

If it was, then the doctor would not be considered negligent, even if harm occurred as a result. However, if they decide that the level of care was insufficient, then the medical professional could be considered negligent. 

Contact our advisors today about what evidence can be gathered to support your medical negligence claim, or for more information on how never events can be caused by medical negligence.  If you have a valid claim, you could be connected with a solicitor from our panel. 

Where Are The Best No Win No Fee Solicitors?

You do not need a solicitor to file a medical negligence claim, however, legal counsel may make the process feel easier. 

This is because medical negligence can be a complex area of law that a solicitor can help you navigate. They can also advise you on collecting evidence to support your claim. 

A No Win No Fee lawyer requires no immediate cost, and you will pay none of their fees if your claim fails. They will take a small, legally-capped percentage of your compensation if the claim succeeds. 

To find out how our panel of No Win No Fee lawyers could help with your never event claim, contact our advisors by:

  • Calling us on the number above
  • Using our contact form
  • Speaking with someone at the live chat to the bottom right of this screen

Further Information About Never Events

Please see below some helpful links: 

How to complain to the NHS

The NHS Constitution for England

CQC – Guidance for Providers 

Check out some of our other guides below too:

Do you still have any questions about what never events are and how to claim compensation if affected by one? You can contact our team of advisors today for advice on claiming for a never event by calling us on the number above, through our contact form or by using our live chat service.

Writer Jack Earling

Publisher Fern Smith