The duty of candour

The following PI & Clinical Negligence practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • The duty of candour
  • Statutory framework
  • The duty of candour
  • Fit and proper person test
  • Fundamental standards
  • Avoidable Harm
  • Serious Incident Framework

The duty of candour

In June 2010, a full public inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire Foundation NHS Trust was announced. This was following concerns about standards of care at the Trust, and an investigation and report published by the (now abolished) Healthcare Commission in March 2009. The concerns were surrounding apparently high mortality rates in patients admitted as emergencies. The Inquiry was chaired by Robert Francis QC.

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

The duty of candour has also been coined Robbie’s Law by, eg, the Action against Medical Accidents group after Robbie Powell who died in 1990.

Statutory framework

The regulations were made on 6 November 2014 with many of them effective 21 days after that, ie 27 November 2014, in accordance with reg 1, with the remaining Regulations effective from 1 April 2015.

The statutory duty of candour is effective from 27 November 2014 as is the fit and proper persons test for directors of a health service body (for all NHS bodies and April 2015 for all other organisations). GPs, dentists, private healthcare and adult social care services are not currently required to inform patients about events which ‘could’ result in significant harm

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