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Francis report: NHS staff face new laws on honesty


The Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust public inquiry report has recommended there should be a series of new laws requiring all NHS staff and directors to be open and honest when mistakes happen.

This would include a new power for the Care Quality Commission to prosecute organisations and individuals who break the rules.

In his long awaited report, which makes a total of 290 recommendations, Robert Francis QC has called for a statutory duty of candour to be imposed on NHS directors to be “truthful” with information they give to healthcare regulators.

He has also called for a change in the law to impose a duty of candour on all doctors, nurses and registered professionals to admit mistakes which have caused “death or serious injury” to their employer as soon as possible.

All healthcare providers should also be required by law to inform the patient or relatives of the mistake and provide information to them.

Robert Francis QC has also recommended a new criminal offence should be created where any healthcare worker who knowingly obstructs others, provides misleading information to patients or families, or makes a dishonest statement to a commissioner or regulator could be prosecuted.

Mr Francis said the Care Quality Commission should be given the power to police this duty of candour and prosecute the most serious cases.

In his executive summary, Mr Francis said: “Stafford was not an event of such rarity or improbability that it would be safe to assume that it has not been and will not be repeated,” he said.

“The extent of the failure of the system shown in this report suggest that a fundamental culture change is needed. That does not require root and branch reorganisation – the system has had many of those – but it requires changes which can largely be implemented within the system that has now been created by the new reforms.

“I hope that the recommendations…put patients where they are entitled to be – the first and foremost consideration of the system and everyone who works in it.”


Readers' comments (6)

  • tinkerbell

    I hope this does become 'law'. It should always have been law. Make it law asap.

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  • tinkerbell

    most people want an acknowledgement that their complaint is taken seriously and they are given an 'hones't answer and are not seeking financial gain, so ambulance chasing lawyers need to back off.

    There is no amount of compensation that can compensate for the death of a loved one when all you want is the truth.

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  • if there is a right to freedom of speech and to be heard in a democratic society which includes Great Britain, why are there different rules in the NHS?

    sorry can't stop at the moment am listening to parliament live!

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  • as Cameron says, there is whistleblowing and there is the response to the whistleblowing. two sides to the coin. whistleblowing often does take place but it is how it is responded to and acted on which may be highly problematic.

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  • I do hope the private sector will not be exempt from this. As work conditions are worse in some cases than the nhs, and more prone to accodental mistakes and near misses.

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  • George Kuchanny

    A Statutory Duty of Candour needs to be put in place forthwith. Then we will all know exactly where we stand and and any manager who attempts to bully medical staff into lying about an error can be sumarily dismissed without so much as a weeks pay in lie of notice, in fact a prison sentence might well be on the cards.

    Naturally as Anonymous | 6-Feb-2013 3:46 pm points out this MUST apply to the private sector as well.

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