Duty of Candour - What does it mean?
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Following a key recommendation of the Mid Staffordshire Enquiry, in November 2014 a new statutory duty of candour was introduced for secondary NHS healthcare bodies in England. The duty will also apply to all other care providers registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) from 1 April 2015.
The duty of candour sets out statutory obligations further to promoting an open and honest way of health and social care provision and transparency when things go wrong. The statutory duty applies to organisations rather than individuals (although similar ideals are set out in both the Nursing and Midwifery and General Medical Council's Codes of Conduct) and stipulates processes to be followed, as soon as is reasonably practicable, following either a 'moderate' or 'severe' incident involving patient safety.
Any unexpected or unintended incident that causes moderate or severe harm, death or prolonged psychological harm for a minimum of 28 days is to be reported under the statutory duty. The organisation must inform the patient in person and is expected to provide a full explanation of what is known at the time, including details of further investigations to be carried out. A written record should be provided. An apology must be given to the patient and a written record of all correspondence kept. Failure to comply with this statutory requirement could lead to criminal proceedings.
I welcome the new regulations; I have seen many examples of openness and honesty following adverse incidents by individuals within healthcare organisations; by making this a statutory requirement hopefully this will set a standard across the board in terms of health and social care provision at an organisational level.
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