NHS 'Should Be More Honest'

A New Review Has Recommended NHS Staff Should Be More Open And Honest About Making Mistakes.


An NHS review has found that doctors and nurses should be more "open and honest" about mistakes they make in care.

The investigation into the healthcare service, which was led by the Royal College of Surgeons president Norman Williams, concluded a "duty of candour" should be introduced to help staff disclose errors they make.

According to Mr Williams, training should take place on how doctors should apologise when it is appropriate - something that has been heralded as a "step forward" by experts in the field, reports the Press Association.

"When things do go wrong, patients and their families want to be told honestly about what happened, how it might be corrected and to know that it will not happen to someone else," Mr Williams said.
"Medical care is inherently risky and staff are not infallible. Errors will always be made and clinical staff will always find themselves in the position of having to discuss harm, or potential harm, with a patient."

Patient groups have long complained about GPs who do not admit their mistakes - arguing this leaves vulnerable people in the dark about potentially deadly illnesses.

Peter Walsh, chief executive of the patient safety group Action against Medical Accidents, backed calls for a duty of candour so that confusion and negligence is minimised.

Ministers are now expected to decide on whether to move forward with a formalised requirement for honesty to be enshrined in law.

Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for health, was among the first to call for a duty of candour, after the Stafford Hospital inquiry found shocking levels of negligence that was only revealed by a whistleblower who left her position as a nurse.

A spokesperson from the Department of Health said the Francis Inquiry showed how important it is to improve transparency, before adding the government will carefully consider enshrining a duty of candour into law.

Ministers will publish a response to the review within the next few weeks.

Expert Opinion
We welcome the review and new guidance to NHS staff which follows on from our calls for a statutory duty of candour to be implemented across all levels of the NHS.

“For many of our clients their battle for justice is about more than compensation, it is about getting answers regarding the lack of transparency from doctors and nurses when mistakes have been made and legal action is often the only option for them in their fight for such information.

“Mistakes can and will happen, but being offered an apology by those responsible will reassure patients and their families that what has happened is being taken seriously.

“They also then need to know that improvements are being made and lessons learnt to prevent the same mistakes from being repeated and other families suffering in the same way.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner