A new health and social care bill, which would require NHS organisations to be “open and honest” when things go wrong, is being introduced to the Welsh parliament today.
Welsh health and social services minister, Vaughan Gething, will today introduce the Health and Social Care (Quality and Engagement) (Wales) Bill to the National Assembly for Wales.
“We need to ensure quality is further embedded in the context of an open and learning culture”
The bill aims to improve quality and public engagement in health and social care services across Wales, and promises to embed a “system-wide” approach to quality in health for future generations.
It will reframe and broaden the existing duty of quality on NHS bodies in Wales and will place an overarching duty on ministers in relation to their health service functions. This is to ensure that when they make a decision they actively consider if it secures improvement in quality and outcome
Also, under the new legislation, a duty of candour will be placed on NHS organisations in Wales to further ensure they are open and honest with patients and service users when things go wrong.
As part of this, the bill will support a culture of “openness, transparency and candour” that is widely associated with good quality care.
In addition, the bill signals the end of the current Community Health Councils, which will be replaced by a new independent citizen body to represent the voice of the public and provide complaints advise and assistance.
Meanwhile, the new bill aims to strengthen leadership and governance arrangements for NHS trusts, by introducing a formal vice chair role for each trust board.
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Mr Gething said: “In Wales, we are fortunate to enjoy some of the best health and social care services, provided by committed and compassionate staff at all levels.
“But we need to ensure quality is further embedded in the context of an open and learning culture, which listens to all voices in driving forward improvement,” he said.
“This bill reinforces key priorities within our plan for health and social care, A Healthier Wales, which outlines how quality will be key to making the health and social care system in Wales both fit for the future and one which achieves value,” he added.
The bill will now begin its scrutiny process at the National Assembly for Wales and, if passed, will become law in summer 2020.
A statutory duty of candour was introduced for NHS organsiations in England in November 2014 and was subsequently extended to all health and care providers in April 2015.
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At the time, the Care Quality Commission described it as an “important step towards ensuring the open, honest and transparent culture that was lacking at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust”.
Scotland followed suit with a bill in 2016, which meant healthcare organisations there became subject to a statutory duty of candour from 1 April 2018.
UK nurses and midwives are also subject to a professional duty of candour on individuals, which is set out in guidance by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
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It states that every healthcare professional must be “open and honest” with patients when something that goes wrong with their treatment or care causes, or has the potential to cause, harm or distress.