Duty of Candour
The duty of candour came into effect for GP practices on 1 April 2015. This is Regulation 20 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014, which sets out fundamental standards.
It aims to ensure that providers are open and transparent with people who use services and other relevant persons in relation to care and treatment. It also sets out some specific requirements that providers must follow when things go wrong with care and treatment, including informing people about the incident, providing reasonable support, providing truthful information and a written apology.
The duty of candour regulation was recommended by the Francis Inquiry report into Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. This is in addition to the professional requirements for candour outlined in Good Medical Practice and applies to organisations rather than individual clinicians.
It means that practices must promote a culture that encourages candour, openness and honesty at all levels. This should be an integral part of a culture of safety that supports organisational and personal learning. There should also be a commitment to being open and transparent at board or partnership level.
What does duty of candour mean for practices?
In interpreting the regulation on the duty of candour, the CQC uses the definitions Robert Francis listed in his report:
Enabling concerns and complaints to be raised freely without fear and questions asked to be answered.
Allowing information about the truth about performance and outcomes to be shared with staff, patients, the public and regulators.
Any patient harmed by the provision of a healthcare service is informed of the fact and an appropriate remedy offered, regardless of whether a complaint has been made or a question asked about it.