Hospitals and other healthcare providers are set to be subject to a statutory duty of candour in response to the Francis report, Nursing Times has learnt.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt is expected to announce the move on Tuesday as part of the government’s much anticipated response to Robert Francis’ 290 recommendations.
Nursing Times understands the duty will be introduced through the legislation governing the Care Quality Commission, meaning all organisations the watchdog regulates will be covered by the new duty.
The duty stops short of what Mr Francis recommended as it does not extend to individuals.
However, Peter Walsh, chief executive of Action Against Medical Accidents, which has been campaigning for a statutory duty of candour for more than a decade, called it one of the biggest advances in the history of the NHS.
He added: “It would be absolutely fundamental to changing the culture of the NHS.
“A corporate duty would mean organisations would have to make it known to every single member of their staff. They would have to demonstrate where there were breaches they had taken action.”
Mr Walsh described the move as a u-turn by the government, which has previously said it would only introduce a contractual duty of candour.
However, critics raised concerns this would not cover private sector healthcare providers or GPs.
The government has faced increasing pressure to introduce a statutory duty with Healthwatch and the influential Health Foundation calling for it.
Nursing Times Speak out Safely Campaign has also called for the government to introduce a statutory duty.
Sign our Speak Out Safely petition to support a transparent and open NHS. We are calling on the government to implement recommendations from the Francis report that will increase protection for staff who raise concerns about patient care.