The duty of candour and how it can help you


16 September, 2016

The duty of candour regulations came in to force 14th November 2014 for NHS bodies and in April 2015 for all other organisations.

It is a statutory duty to be open and honest with patients, or the families, when something goes wrong or could lead to significant harm in the future. What this means is that the organisation has to tell you about any incident where the care or treatment may have gone wrong and appears to have caused significant harm, or has the potential to result in significant harm in the future.

The charity Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) suggests this duty is potentially the biggest advance in patients' rights and patient safety in modern times, having seen what lack of honesty and cover ups do to so many families.

The aim is to encourage good practice and encourage learning to improve patient safety.

In practice, it means that a patient should be informed about what has happened in a sensitive way in person as soon as reasonably practicable. This should be followed by a written account and an apology.

There ought to be information about what will happen next, and what safety measures will be taken and what enquiries and investigations would be carried out. You should be kept informed about any investigation and its outcome.

There is a useful, educational tool for learning for those organisations involved. By and large the NHS does a fantastic job, but when serious mistakes are made, lessons must be learnt.

When Clients have come to Forbes in the past they have been upset by the lack of honesty and cover ups. In our experience where it has been adhered to the hospital has acknowledged the issue and the harm that has been caused by it. This can only help to make the experience of the patient less harrowing.

Where compensation is sought it is a useful tool in assisting to narrow the issues and shortening the litigation process.

It is hoped that it will make cover ups a thing of the past and to ensure that there is learning to improve patient safety.

If you think there has been a breach of the duty of candour we would advise to raise it with the health professional or make it a formal complaint in the first instance. If the organisation fails to comply with it they could face regulatory action from the Care Quality Commission and in serious or persisting cases, criminal prosecution.

If you are looking for any more information with regards to our services view our Clinical Negligence section. You can also contact Leonie Millard in our Clinical Negligence department via email or phone on 01254 770517. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.


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