What is a ‘Duty of Candour’?

Since 27th November 2014 any Health Service Body is required to act in an open and transparent way in relation to care and treatment provided to service users.

This is the legal outcome of the enquiry into Mid Staffordshire Hospitals where between 2005 and 2008 conditions of appalling care were able to flourish.  Inhumane treatment of patients lead to hundreds of cases of unnecessary suffering and death.

This is known as the ‘duty of candour’.  It is now an offence for a Health Service Body to fail to notify patients where there has been an incident resulting in unexpected harm.

Last week we advised the family of a gentleman transferred to Manchester Royal Infirmary for a hip replacement.  He was well known and well-liked by members of this firm, a colleague had played golf with him a few months ago.

He never had his hip replacement and he never went home.  He passed away in the critical care unit two weeks after his admission and his wife and daughter were completely at a loss to understand why or how he died.  The most they had been told was that he might have had some kind of infection.

The Coroner for Manchester has begun an enquiry and there are legal roads for disclosure of information, so we hope that one way or another this family will have their questions answered.  It is hard to see how they will ever come to terms with their loss without a proper explanation.  What is remarkable is that within a year of introduction of the duty of candour, it is being completely ignored by a major teaching hospital.

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