How To Claim For A Back Injury At Work For The NHS

By Marlon Redding. Last Updated 22nd September 2022. Have you suffered a back injury at work as an NHS worker? Do you believe that the accident and your injuries could have been avoided if your employer had taken better care of your health and safety while at work?

If so, you may be looking to make a personal injury claim against the NHS as your employer. This guide to back injuries at work looks specifically at the types of injury you could suffer as an NHS worker. It also reveals what responsibilities your employer (the NHS) has towards your safety and health at work and what kinds of situations could lead to a claim.

How Much Could I Claim For A Back Injury Working For The NHS?

We also include information about the NHS injury allowance and how much compensation you could get if you suffer a back injury at work as an NHS worker.

We go on to offer guidance on the personal injury claims time limit that could apply to your claim and discuss how using the services of a personal injury solicitor could benefit your claim.

We hope you find this guide useful, but if you’re looking for further information and guidance relating to your own case, we’d be happy to provide this to you over the phone. We could also connect you with a personal injury lawyer from our panel that could help take your claim forward.

To access free claims advice, why not call our helpline on 0161 696 9685?

Jump To A Section

A Guide To Back Injury At Work NHS Claims

How to claim for a back injury at work NHS guideWhat happens if you hurt your back at work and you’re employed by the NHS? You might ask this question if you have sustained a back injury at work as an NHS worker. This guide aims to answer questions relating to such injuries including:

  • Can I sue if I hurt my back at work?
  • What is the NHS injury benefit scheme and could it be better for me than making a personal injury claim?
  • What happens if I am injured at work by a patient?

We also take a look at what situations could lead to a personal injury claim against the NHS for an accident at work that has led to a back injury. In addition, we provide some insight into compensation payouts, and how to get a lawyer to help you with a claim without having to pay them upfront.

  • Claims could be made where your employer has:
  • Not provided proper training in lifting procedures
  • Not given you equipment to help you with manual handling tasks when it would be appropriate for them to do so
  • Not kept the workplace free of hazards, or signposted those that couldn’t be moved
  • Not kept you safe from the threat of violence from patients at work

Whether you’re looking to claim NHS staff assault compensation or personal injury compensation for a lifting injury, this guide could help you ascertain whether you could have a claim, and how much compensation you could receive.

What Is A Back Injury At Work In The NHS?

Your employer should do everything reasonably possible to help you avoid suffering injury or illness at work. They have a legal responsibility in this regard, also known as a duty of care, which is laid out in the Health and Safety At Work etc Act 1974. If they fail to look after your health and safety at work, and you suffer an injury or an illness because of their failure, you may be able to claim compensation for your injury as well as any expenses associated with it, provided you can prove they breached their duty of care.

You may assume that working for the NHS, especially when it comes to moving patients and beds, might come with risks that cannot be managed. However, while some jobs come with more risks than others, your employer should attempt to minimise those risks as much as could be considered reasonable. Their failure to do so could lead to you making a claim against them if you suffer an injury because of their negligence.

Back Injury At Work Claim – How Long Do I Have?

You must start your back injury at work claim within a certain time limit. Generally, this is three years from the date of the accident but some exceptions can be made in the following cases:

  • The injured party was/is under the age of 18
  • The injured person lacks the capacity to start their claim
  • Symptoms do not manifest until a much later date than the accident

For those under the age of 18 at the time of suffering your back injury at work, the time limit to start a claim will only begin on the date of their 18th birthday. The claimant will have three years from this date.

However, the time limit is suspended until this date. During this suspended period, someone can be appointed a litigation friend to claim on their behalf.

People who lack the mental or physical capacity to start their claim can also be granted an extension. Their time limit can be frozen until they are once again able to represent themselves. Like people under the age of 18, a litigation friend can be appointed to represent them.

If you were unable to start your back injury claim because you were unaware of your injuries, then according to the Limitations Act 1980 your 3 year time limit can start on the date you were made aware.

As we have said, you can reach out to an adviser for any more questions you may have about claiming for a back injury at work.

Statistics On NHS Employee Back Injuries

In 2011, it was revealed that the cost of back injuries in healthcare workers was significant. In an article produced in The Nursing Times, it was stated that back injuries suffered by NHS staff at work were costing over £400 million per year.

The article also revealed more nurse back injury statistics, including that more than 800,000 nurses and 3,600 healthcare staff are forced into early retirement because of back injuries. In addition to this, it also states that over a quarter of reported injuries in the care sector are handling injuries.


In the human health and social work sector, the HSE revealed that in 2018/19 there were an estimated 60,000 new or long-standing cases of work-related musculoskeletal injuries, which equated to around 1.4% of the total staff sector.

Between 2016/17 and 2018/19, absence levels were recorded as being 1.4 days lost per worker, which amounted to 4.6 million days each year.

What Could Cause An NHS Staff Back Injury?

There are various issues that could cause an NHS accident at work that leads to a back injury. According to the HSE, the most common causes of back pain in employees across all sectors include:

  • Lifting bulky or heavy loads
  • Carrying loads in an awkward manner
  • Dragging, pushing or pulling heavy loads
  • Repetitive tasks (packing etc.)
  • Stretching, twisting and reaching
  • Manual handling tasks that take place in awkward places
  • Crouching, stooping or bending
  • Working when physically overtired

What Are The Symptoms And Effects Of Back Injuries?

The symptoms of a back injury at work as an NHS worker can vary from relatively minor nuisance-type injuries to those that could lead to significant long-term consequences.

The lower back is more prone to problems with injury. Injuries could include:

  • Sprains and strains – the ligaments and muscles of the back can become stretched and strained. This could cause pain and stiffness.
  • Herniated discs – the discs in the back could become herniated, which could lead to pain from the nerve root. This pain could radiate to other parts of the body, such as down the legs
  • Fractured vertebrae – from simple crush/compression fractures to burst fractures, these type of back injuries could injure the nerves and spinal cord.

However, it isn’t just the physical symptoms of a back injury you could suffer. Long-term pain has been said to have a significantly detrimental effect on our mental health, according to the NHS.

If healthcare staff suffer a musculoskeletal injury through work that leads to a long-term condition causing pain, they may be able to claim compensation for both physical and mental ill-health caused by their back injury if they can show that the injury was caused by their employer’s failings.

Managing Risks And The NHS Responsibility To Employees

The NHS, like any employer, has a legal responsibility to look after its employees’ health and safety while they are at work. They should minimise or prevent you from sustaining a back injury at work as an NHS worker in any way that they can, including:

  • Minimising lifting requirements
  • Providing equipment to help with lifting, where there is a need for them to do so
  • Providing manual handling training relevant to your role
  • Risk assessing your job and your role and minimising risks identified as much as reasonably possible.

What Is The NHS Injury Allowance?

An NHS injury allowance could be used in order to top up your wages or sick pay to 85% of your usual earnings and could be paid for up to 12 months for each episode of injury. To be eligible, you’d have to fulfil the below criteria:

  • Be employed by the NHS
  • Have contracted an injury or condition that could be mainly or wholly attributed to your NHS employment
  • Have taken authorised sick leave or are on a phased return
  • Have had your earnings reduced because of your condition to less than 85% of your regular earnings.

However, the NHS injury allowance doesn’t cover everyone, and it may only benefit you if you are off work or on a phased return. In addition to this many NHS staff would not be eligible to benefit from this scheme.

Dental practice workers, GP staff and agency staff may not be eligible and could have to seek compensation via another route. To discuss which route to compensation may be appropriate for your back injury at work as an NHS worker, please do not hesitate to talk to our team.

Back Injury At Work NHS Compensation Calculator

If you’re looking to make a personal injury claim against the NHS for back injuries at work, without accessing the NHS injury allowance, we have included an alternative to a personal injury claims calculator below, to give you an insight into how much your claim could be worth.

The figures you can see are from the Judicial College Guidelines. This is an annually updated publication that could help the courts and lawyers to arrive at a payout amount for your injuries.

Back Injury SeverityFurther NotesCompensation Bracket
Severe (i)The most severe of injuries causing spinal cord damage and damage to the nerve roots. This could lead to severe combinations of consequences that aren’t normally present in back injury cases. Disability and pain would be severe, and this could be combined with incomplete paralysis, significant impairment of sexual, bladder or bowel function.£91,090 to £160,980
Severe (ii)Cases in this bracket would usually have outstanding features that set them apart from other orthopaedic back injuries. Nerve root injury with sensation loss, impairment of mobility, scarring and impaired bowel or bladder function could feature.£74,160 to £88,430
Severe (iii)Fractures of vertebral discs, disc lesions, fractured discs that lead to chronic condition that leave disabilities despite treatment. These could lead to severe discomfort and pain, impairment of agility or sexual function, personality changes, risk of arthritis, depression and alcoholism.£38,780 to £69,730
Moderate (i)Residual disabilities less severe than above. One example of an injury that could be in this bracket could include a crush fracture of the vertebrae in the lumbar region, where the osteoarthritis risk is substantial and there is discomfort and pain that is constant.£27,760 to £38,780
Moderate (ii)Those that are more frequently experienced such as ligament and muscle damage that lead to backache, or those that accelerate or exacerbate previous conditions.
£12,510 to £27,760
MinorLess serious disc prolapses, soft tissue injuries, strains and sprains. Duration and severity would usually dictate the amount awarded.

Figures featured are for injuries that heal within two to five years
£7,410 - £11,730

What Are Special Compensatory Damages?

Special compensatory damages may also be payable as part of a claim for a back injury at work as an NHS worker. They could include:

  • Care expenses
  • Medical costs
  • Travel expenses
  • Loss of earnings

When claiming back costs incurred because of your injury, make sure you keep hold of your receipts and bills. Without evidence, you may not be able to recover the fees.

No Win No Fee Claims For A Back Injury At Work NHS

You could make a claim for a back injury at work against the NHS without paying a lawyer upfront for their assistance. No Win No Fee claims don’t require you to pay your lawyer a retainer. In fact, you wouldn’t pay any legal fees until your case had been completed and your compensation had been paid.

You’d have to sign a Conditional Fee Agreement before the lawyer could move forward with your claim. This would agree on a small success fee that would only be payable in the event of a successful claim. If your lawyer didn’t manage to get you a payout, you wouldn’t pay it. You would not pay any costs incurred by your lawyer when they were fighting your claim either.

Here at Legal Helpline, we could help you start a No Win No Fee claim by connecting you with a solicitor that could help you. To ask us about this, or to have any other questions about the claims process answered, simply get in touch.

Contact Legal Helpline Today

If you have sustained a back injury at work as an NHS worker, and you’d like us to assess your case to see if you could be eligible for compensation, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

We’d also be happy to answer any questions you might have about these and other healthcare worker injuries. We could even connect you with an experienced personal injury solicitor from our panel who could help you claim compensation for injuries sustained at work.

To get in touch, simply:

Quick Links

How To Nurse A Lower Back Injury – Here, you can find guidance on dealing with back pain.

Back Pain Treatment Options – Here, you can take a look at the NHS information on back pain treatments.

Back Pain Return To Work Booklet – Here, the NHS has produced a guide to musculoskeletal pain for NHS workers.


Guide by JS

Edited by REG