Duty of Candour; what you need to know

“To err is human, to cover up is unforgivable, and to fail to learn is inexcusable”

Sir Liam Donaldson 

What is Duty of Candour?

The NHS Trusts where you work your assignments have a legal responsibility to tell people who use their services when something goes wrong and to apologise. This is known as Duty of Candour.

What does this mean for Trusts?

If an unintended or unexpected incident occurs where significant harm has happened or may still happen to a patient or service user the incident must be notified to the Care Quality Commission (CQC)

The Trust must then be open and transparent with the patient or service user by:

  • Apologising and taking responsibility for what went wrong
  • Ensuring a Duty of Candour conversation is held with the patient or service user by a senior member of staff and that this is documented
  • Investigating and ensuring a line of communication is open with the patient or service user at all times
  • Giving feedback to the patient or service user once the investigation completed
  • Sending a written apology to the patient or service user

What does this mean for you?

  • Be open and honest if you make a mistake
  • If you see something that you think is not right report it
  • Do not be afraid to report something that has gone wrong
  • If something does go wrong think about it and reflect on what you have learned and what you will do to prevent it happening again
  • Be aware that the CQC may ask you what you know about Duty of Candour if they speak to you when they are carrying out an inspection in the Trusts where you are working

Remember – An apology is an expression of sorrow or regret not an admission of guilt.

About the author

NHS Professionals administrator

NHS Professionals manages the temporary staffing needs of around 66 NHS Trusts across England. An integral part of the NHS, it aims to reduce Trusts’ spending on flexible workers without compromising quality, by providing greater transparency of demand and supplying bank staff at the best possible rate. Its bank of more than 40,000 flexible workers comprises general and specialist nurses, doctors, midwives, admin/clerical , allied health professionals, healthcare scientists, support services among other healthcare professionals.

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