Calls for duty of candour system to be re-considered
A nurse holds a patient's hand.

A new call for evidence launched yesterday (16 April) aims to capture and consider views about how the duty of candour system is honoured, monitored and enforced in health and social care settings.

The duty of candour requires health and care providers to be open and honest when things go wrong.

It means that patients and families have a right to receive explanations for what happened as soon as possible and a meaningful apology. 

The current system has been in place for a decade and this review will look at how it is operating amid concerns that there is some inconsistency in how it is being applied.  

Minister for mental health and women’s health strategy, Maria Caulfield said her experience as a nurse in the NHS taught her the importance of healthcare providers of being with their patients and their loved ones, especially if something has gone wrong.

She said: "I want to ensure that our system of duty of candour is kept up to date, so I urge anyone with views or experience to respond to the call for evidence to help inform our review, which will ensure that honesty and integrity remain at the heart of our health and social care services.”  

The call for evidence opened on 16 April and will run for six weeks.  

It follows a range of measures the government has announced to improve patient safety. In February, the department announced the rollout of Martha’s Rule to over 100 acute sites by March 2025.

Martha’s Rule entitles patients and family members, who are concerned that their condition is deteriorating, to initiate a rapid review by someone outside of their initial care team.  

This week, the Department of Health and Social Care also confirmed that the strengthening of death certificate safeguards would come into force in September, with medical examiners looking at the cause of death in all cases that haven’t been referred to the coroner.

The review into duty of candour has gained widespread support from the health and care sectors, which see the review as an important way to ensure that healthcare providers are adhering to best practice.