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Health: New 'duty of candour' law to oblige NHS honesty on mistakes

The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced a new statute law that will oblige NHS bodies to be honest about their mistakes, reports the BBC.

The announcement made yesterday in the Commons comes in the wake of the government-commissioned Francis Inquiry into the failings at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, which found that patients were 'routinely neglected' by a trust that 'lost sight of its fundamental responsibility to provide safe care'.

The inquiry made 290 recommendations, many of which are forming part of a new government NHS strategy to place patient care at the heart of the NHS.

The Government response to the inquiry will see a new law introduced obliging NHS boards to be honest about their mistakes. In the past mistakes have been kept quiet, often with financial settlements to those wronged and payoffs to former staff for their silence.

Don Redding, a policy director for patient organisation 'National Voices' believes this provision will have an impact.

"In cases where patients have been harmed or worse, both senior managers and their legal advisers have generally decided their first duty is to the interests of the trust. This new legal duty will rebalance that," he told the BBC.

Other changes will include the appointment of a new Chief Inspector of hospitals and care homes, responsible for overseeing standards of care, and the introduction of an Ofsted-style ratings system.

The inquiry was particularly scathing of the way nurses and healthcare assistants (HCAs) treated some patients. The Government has stopped short of a registration system for HCAs, but will instead implement a Code of Conduct and minimum training standards.

The Government will pilot a scheme for nurses to spend up to one year training as an HCA in basic care, before completing their nursing degree.

There will also be consideration of a scheme to make doctors and nurses criminally responsible if they attempt to cover up errors. The inquiry found that observation charts had 'gone missing' in controversial cases where mistakes had been made.

Source:

No more covering up errors, NHS told (BBC News)