The duty of candour is a legal obligation on hospitals, community and mental health trusts to inform and apologise to patients if there have been mistakes in their care that have led to significant harm. The aim is to help patients to receive accurate, truthful information from health providers.
Since 1st April 2015 the duty of candour is expressly applicable to independent health and social care providers.
The General Medical Council, in partnership with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, has today released joint guidance for individual doctors, nurses and midwives on the professional duty of candour. This will apply to over 950,000 individual medics working in the UK.
The duty of candour follows the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry chaired by Sir Robert Francis QC published on 6th February 2013, which examined the failings in the care provided to patients at the Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2009 and the high mortality rate. The report exposed how fears over damage to the hospital reputation led to a lethal culture of silence and cover up when mistakes were made. The report made 290 recommendations, including the recommendation of openness, transparency, fundamental standards for healthcare providers and a statutory duty of candour.
The General Medical Council states that:
“The Mid Staffordshire Inquiry showed that staff can feel inhibited and that more needed to be done to reinforce the requirement not only for health professionals to be open and honest, but also for the organisations in which they work to foster a culture that is transparent, supportive and encourages reporting and learning from mistakes.
The guidance says that doctors, nurses and midwives should:
– speak to a patient, or those close to them, as soon as possible after they realise something has gone wrong with their care
– apologise to the patient, explaining what happened, what can be done if they have suffered harm and what will be done to prevent someone else being harmed in the future
– report errors at an early stage so that lessons can be learned quickly, and patients are protected from harm in the future.”
As specialist medical negligence lawyers, here at Jordans Solicitors, we find that where a patient has suffered negligent medical treatment, the matter is compounded by the way in which the medical professionals have treated that patient after such negligence, particularly where the patient simply seeks an explanation as to how such negligence has occurred.
We hope that the Duty of Candour upon medical professionals and healthcare providers will lessen the suffering and stress that a patient may experience as a result of medical negligence.
If you or anyone you know has suffered negligent medical treatment, please do not hesitate to contact our specialist team of medical negligence lawyers on 01924 457171, who would be happy to discuss the matter and advise whether we can assist you further.