DHSC launch review into ‘duty of candour’ in health and social care

A review is to be launched into “variation” on how open and honest health and care providers are with patients when things go wrong.

The Department of Health and Social Care announced that it is to review the “effectiveness of the statutory duty of candour” for health and social care providers in England.

The Health Service Ombudsman welcomed the review, saying that the obligation on health and care providers is “not always implemented as it should be”.

In a written statement to the House of Commons, health minister Maria Caulfield said: “The Department of Health and Social Care will lead a review into the effectiveness of the statutory duty of candour for health and social care providers in England.

“The duty of candour is about people’s right to openness and transparency from their health or care provider.

“It means that when something goes wrong during the provision of health and care services, patients and their families have a right to receive explanations for what happened as soon as possible and a meaningful apology.

“Since its introduction, there has been variation in how the duty has been applied in some settings. To that effect, the review will look at the operation and enforcement of the existing duty, with a focus on delivering recommendations that can improve its application.”

She said the review will start in the new year.

Commenting, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Rob Behrens (pictured) said: “I have long called for closer openness and transparency when things go wrong in the NHS. The duty of candour was intended to reinforce this.

“However, a decade after its introduction, our Broken Trust report into avoidable deaths in the NHS found that the duty is not always implemented as it should be and called for a full review to assess its effectiveness.

“Despite it being a statutory duty to be open and honest when things go wrong with a patient’s care, I know from the cases we investigate that this doesn’t always happen. Patients and their families deserve better.”

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