Nurses should not be legally bound to own up and inform their patient if they make a treatment error, the new health secretary has said.
Andrew Lansley said earlier this week that he disagreed with the call made by some patient groups for a “corporate duty of candour”, which would make it an offence not to reveal a mistake.
However, in his first major speech since taking up office, he announced he will tell the NHS to include a right to raise concerns in the public interest into staff contracts. Mr Lansley is considering other changes to encourage speaking out and protect “whisteblowers”, including a new authority which staff can turn to with complaints about their employer.
He said the NHS had to create an open culture but he said: “I’m not sure we should feel the only way we can achieve that culture is by legislation.
“I hope we can do something which doesn’t involve the excessive bureaucracy of trying to legislate.”
A Nursing Times survey of 1,900 nurses about medication administration at the beginning of this month found 45 per cent thought it should become mandatory for patients to be made aware of drug errors, whether or not the error resulted in harm to the patient. Only 7 per cent were completely against the move, while 34 per cent said patients should only be informed if they were harmed or their condition changed as a result of the error.