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Exclusive: hospitals and GP practices will be required to tell truth about errors


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.



Readers' comments (13)

  • Let's see the small print before getting to excited. It is also necessary for the fear and blame culture to be cured or otherwise cover ups are not eliminated but that they are practised at much greater risk to the 'conspirators'!

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  • michael stone

    The duty stops short of what Mr Francis recommended as it does not extend to individuals.


    It should be a corporate AND individual duty of candour.

    And it should cover ALL PROVIDERS OF care paid for by the NHS.

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  • Susan Markham

    Yup - how many times have we heard this nonsense ....?

    There is no way to be delicate about it.... the greatest lies told to women...

    1) The Cheque is in the post...
    2) I'll never beat you again....
    3) I won't ejaculate in your mouth...

    Telling the "Truth" is something inherently opposed to inheriting the XY chromosome.



    Nurses have, effectively, taken a 15% pay reduction over the last three years.... Will the Members of Parliament also show "Candour" by reducing their salaries by an appropriate amount?

    People (mostly through The Daily Mail) whine on about how much the public sector costs the country visa vie the private sector... they bash on about Nurses, Firemen, Paramedics and Police... but what they do not realise is that "Government" costs far more than any of those vital services.

    In Bermuda - the newly elected "One Bermuda Party" actually passed legislation to take a pay cut of 10%....

    Yes - they did!

    Can you imagine Cameroon and Cleggy doing the same thing? Germy Hunt???

    Yeah.... I thought not....

    Refer to the three greatest lies told to women... at the start of this message and you will see why I am slightly sceptical.

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  • & how do they plan to check people are telling the truth?
    As a patient, a complaint reached the ombudsman, the NHS organisation submitted a statement from a nurse of the opposite sex to the one I'd had contact with & for whom there was no evidence in my notes of any contact, & the ombudsman still fell for it.
    As a nurse, the same organisation wrote things which there is documentary evidence that is untrue, but served their purpose (after my equal ops form leaked, manager stated intention to Occ Health that she'd 'find another way to get rid of me if he wouldn't do it' & 'make sure I never worked again' despite also saying she 'had no clinical concerns') My sin? Having reported bullying in an organisation that a government report found had a 'bullying culture'.
    Given the lengths some organisations will go to to cover up, how does the government intend to check the 'truth' they are presented with is the truth?

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  • George Kuchanny

    At last. A Statutory Duty of Candour. Now the practice of getting someone to lie for you when you make a mistake will begin to shrivel up.

    It will clearly make the excruciatingly horrible practice of leaning on your mates to 'not let the side down' and other cobblers of that ilk that bit more difficult.

    So a resounding YAY! to this development fron me.

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  • Exclusive: Hospitals are required not to kill their patients through gross mismanagement and bullying...........but they do.

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 24-Mar-2013 2:34 pm

    I had a similar experience, of my PCT telling the PHSO a series of untruths and inventions.

    But the point is, you need to answer concerns at the time they are raised, and openly, so that there is a record of who asked whom what and when, and the replies at the time are clear.

    One of the major issues with current 'complaints' processing, is that the process only leads to an argument about who said what, so long after things happened, that it is usually impossible to work out what actually happened.

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  • Bullying and conducts all start from goverment like someone rightly said at the begining of this message.

    I think the reasons why nurses are abused and bullied by the goverment and everyone is because 60-70 % are women in this profession.

    We accept pay cut, etc , how many people in goverment and banks have had a pay cut and no pay increase in the last 3yrs?

    I think the highest paid people should be nurses, teachers, fire service, and ambulance services.

    The nurses are not look after by their bosses , by the goverment, or by their union. If we are not looked after by the same health proffesionals how would we be able to speak out because of fear that we may loose our jobs.

    The employers will continue to bully employees because they know that you would loose your job if you report them and you will not have reference for a new job.

    I do not know how this plan will work but we should all look out.

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  • DH Agent - as if ! | 25-Mar-2013 10:56 am

    "But the point is, you need to answer concerns at the time they are raised, and openly, so that there is a record of who asked whom what and when, and the replies at the time are clear"

    Point taken, but there are already national guidelines (in Scotland anyway) re: speed of response to complaints to avoid 'passage of time' issues (4 weeks I think). I put in complaint within days, got a reply to say received, but then they didn't respond for 6 months (despite my contacting each 4 weeks to check on progress) before claiming it was now impossible due to 'passage of time' as 'they did not keep records regarding some of the issues raised'. But then were perfectly able to create a (false) record) for the ombudsman.

    Hence my question - how are they going to check organisations are telling the truth?

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  • "What is truth? Is mine the same as yours?"

    Then they'll simply find new ways of lying. Unless the Government can force them to prove that they are saying the truth they'll find new ways of lying. Hospitals and trusts are byzantine in their complexity and they can prove what they like how they like.

    The truth won't come out for ages and when it does, everybody responsible will have moved on. That's why managers come and leave so quickly. They will be afraid.

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