What to Do If Your Child Was Mistreated in Hospital?

A child going into hospital is always a scary time for parents. We trust hospitals to provide our children with a high standard of care. But unfortunately, this is not always the case. If you think that your child has been mistreated in hospital, or not been given an appropriate level of care, here’s what you need to know about making a complaint.

Reasons for Making a Complaint

There are several scenarios in which you might want to file a complaint about your child’s treatment. Incorrect diagnoses or being given inappropriate treatment are both among the most common reasons for filing a complaint. Similarly, you might want to file a complaint if you think there has been an unreasonable delay in administering treatment to your child.

Depending on the nature of the event that you want to complain about, you might want to complain to the hospital that treated your child, or you might want to elevate your complaint to the General Medical Council. If you aren’t sure who you should be directing your complaint to, then you should ask Citizens Advice (previously the Citizens Advice Bureau). Citizens Advice are there to point you in the right direction, and they are a hugely underappreciated public resource.

Who is Responsible?

When your child is in hospital, they will be assigned an individual doctor. However, there are often many different people involved in delivering care to each patient, so it can be hard to discern exactly who it is that is responsible for any particular treatment or diagnosis.

If you aren’t sure who specifically is responsible for the incident that you want to complain about, ask the hospital for the names of those involved. The hospital will focus on finding the information, only if you pursue a complaint. If they are not forthcoming, make sure that you include this with your complaint.

Complaints Procedures

Your first port of call should be the NHS complaints procedure. Note that the NHS complaints procedure also applies to treatment administered in a private hospital if it is paid for by the NHS.

For more serious cases, you might want to pursue legal action. This includes cases that breach equality or human rights laws, even if there is no physical injury sustained.


In some cases, the treatment of your child in the hospital might rise to the level of medical negligence. If this is the case, then you might be able to claim compensation. However, the bar for medical negligence is set very high and not every mistake made on the part of a hospital or caregivers will rise to the level of negligence.

The majority of medical negligence claims are settled outside of court or are dropped by the claimant, so it is unlikely that you will have to argue your case in a courtroom in any situation. If you think that your child has been seriously mistreated, you should consult with a medical negligence solicitor to see if you have a case.

Remember that you and your child have rights. If you think that your child’s rights have been infringed upon or their doctors haven’t lived up to their professional and legal obligations, you should be prepared to pursue the case.

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