The duty of candour: New statutory duty in force from 27 November

The Francis Inquiry concluded that candour is an essential component in high quality healthcare, but that openness, transparency and candour are frequently not observed. The introduction of a statutory duty of candour implements one of the key recommendations from the Inquiry and is effective from 27 November 2014.

Background

In 1990, Robbie Powell died aged 10, as a result a treatable glandular condition. His death was one of 1,200 at Stafford Hospital, run by Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. Robbie's father commenced a tireless battle for a culture of transparency and openness by healthcare providers when dealing with mistakes that cause death or serious injury, taking 21 years to try and uncover the truth regarding his son’s death and raise awareness of the lack of transparency with the NHS. Subsequently, a full public enquiry was set up in 2010, chaired by Robert Francis QC (known as the Francis Inquiry).

The Francis report made 290 recommendations, of which 281 were accepted by the Health Secretary, including the recommendation of a new statutory duty of candour — a requirement to be open and honest about mistakes. The Francis recommendations were that:

  • healthcare providers be under a statutory duty to inform the patient where they believe or suspect that treatment or care provided has caused death or serious injury
  • there should be a statutory duty on registered healthcare professionals to inform their employer
  • it be a criminal offence to knowingly obstruct, intend to mislead or dishonestly make an unlawful statement as to the cause of harm or death

The LexisPSL Personal Injury team have released a Practice Note which covers this new statutory duty, contained in the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014.

Download the Practice Note here [PDF]

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