Kate Oldfield

When you, or a loved one, are receiving care, it can be distressing when something goes wrong. As such, a so-called ‘Duty of Candour’ was introduced in 2014.  The core of this duty is the right of patients and their families to receive prompt and honest explanations and apologies when healthcare services fall short. It requires health and care professionals to be open and honest when things go wrong with a patient’s care and to provide an explanation, reasonable support and a meaningful apology.

Following a recent report by the Department of Health and Social Care, in which the Duty of Candour came under the spotlight, it has been announced that there will be a review of this duty.

The upcoming review led by the Department of Health and Social Care seeks to scrutinise the real-world effectiveness and implementation of this duty in order to provide patients and families with better outcomes following mistakes. It reflects an acknowledgment of the potential gap between the policy’s intent and its actual execution in healthcare settings. It is a crucial step towards reinforcing trust and accountability in the health and care system.

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Rob Behrens has been a vocal advocate for increased openness in the NHS. In light of the department’s announcement, Behrens emphasises the need for this review, citing the findings of the recent “Broken Trust” report which revealed shortcomings in the duty’s implementation. He notes that, despite the statutory nature of this duty, real-life cases often display a lack of openness, to the detriment of patients and their families. His perspective highlights a significant disconnect between policy and practice, underscoring the necessity for this review.

As the Department of Health and Social Care embarks on this review, the focus should be on realigning the duty of candour with its intended purpose. It is a chance to listen to the voices of those affected, to learn from past shortcomings, and to build a more transparent, accountable, and patient-centric healthcare system. The duty of candour is not just a legal obligation; it is a moral imperative, central to the trust between healthcare providers and those they serve. The forthcoming review is a pivotal moment in reaffirming this vital commitment.

If you or someone you know has received medical treatment that has result in you suffering an injury, please contact us on 0161 832 3304.

*This article was co-authored by Olivia Rollinson.



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