MP welcomes ‘duty of candour’

March 27, 2013 4:09 PM

LocalMP Tom Brake has welcomed the announcement of a new policy placing legal obligation on healthcare providers to tell the truth about errors.

Hospitals, GP practices and other healthcare providers will be under a legal 'duty of candour' to inform patients and families if treatment or care has caused death or serious injury. There should also be an explanation of what has happened.

Tom said:

"This is welcome news and comes after years of campaigning. I have championed the need for a duty of candour in the NHS during successive Governments, and am happy with the announcement."

"Poor care is simply unacceptable. Where mistakes occur, I want the healthcare providers to be open about these errors, regardless of whether the patient or their relatives make a complaint."

"Evidently, the culture of the healthcare system must change. The statutory duty of candour is a step in the right direction, as it will encourage a culture of honesty."

The duty of candour was one of the key recommendations of the Francis Inquiry. Doctors already have the ethical duty to be open with patients about errors, but the announcement means they will now have a legal obligation too. The policy will be effective from 1April. In addition to the duty of candour a new barring system has been announced, preventing disgraced managers from working anywhere else in the NHS.

Peter Walsh, chief executive of Action Against Medical Accidents, which has been campaigning for a statutory duty of candour for 30 years said:

"This would be probably the biggest advance in patient safety and patients' rights in the history of the NHS."

The proposal to introduce a duty of candour was in the Liberal Democrats' manifesto. The last Government ignored calls from the Liberal Democrats and from campaigners to introduce a duty. The new statutory duty of candour sends a very clear message about the importance of transparency and openness in the NHS.

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