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Scotland seeks to introduce new 'duty of candour' for NHS

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NHS organisations in Scotland would be compelled to admit mistakes that caused harm to patients, under proposals unveiled by the Scottish government.

The move follows the introduction of a statutory duty of candour for NHS services in England, which came into force this month.                

“The Scottish government strongly supports duty of candour and believes all health and social care staff must be honest and transparent in everything they do”

Alex Neil

Today the Scottish Government launched a consultation on its own version, which would place a legal duty on health and social care services to tell people when harm had occurred during care or treatment.

Under the plans, the type of incidents that must be reported would include those that lead to death, injury or long-term physical or psychological harm.

This could include errors that mean a patient has to have a second operation, go back into hospital or spend extra time on a ward or receiving treatment as an outpatient.

The consultation document also stressed the need to ensure appropriate support and training for staff, which may include bolstering training for nursing students and nursing staff.

Scottish health secretary Alex Neil said the new legislation was part of efforts to boost transparency and drive up standards of care.

“The Scottish government strongly supports duty of candour and believes all health and social care staff must be honest and transparent in everything they do in order to best serve and protect those who rely on their services,” he said.

Alex Neil

Alex Neil MSP

The consultation runs until 14 January with ministers due to report back by the end of March.

The consultation and feedback forms can be downloaded from the Scottish Government website

In England the new legal duty of candour has applied to NHS bodies since 1 October and is being policed by the Care Quality Commission. It is due to be extended to all health and social care providers by April next year, subject to parliamentary approval.

The CQC has been consulting on guidance to help providers meet a new set of core standards, including the new duty of candour, setting out what the regulator will be looking for during inspections. The consultation process is due to conclude at the end of this week.

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