Duty of Candour

What is the "Duty of Candour"?

Candour: "The quality of being honest and telling the truth, especially about a difficult or embarassing subject."
(Definition from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary and Thesaurus, copyright Cambrige University Press.)

One of the most difficult jobs a healthcare professional will ever have to do is be open and honest with a family about an incident in which they were involved, that resulted in the avoidable death or harm of a child.

healthcare professionals were for many years expected to tell patients about mistakes under their professional registration.This did not happen.

Robbie Powell’s case explicitly exposed the issue for families, when The European Court of Human Rights stated:

"….. As the law stands now, however, doctors have no duty to give parents of a child who died as a result of their negligence a truthful account of the circumstances of the death, nor even to refrain from deliberately falsifying records."

Sir Liam Donaldson, former Chief Medical Officer formally recommended a Legal Duty of Candour for NHS professionals in his report ‘Making Amends’ in 2003. This recommendation was rejected by Government.

Patient Justice charities and campaign groups, such as AvMA and Robbies Law Trust campaigned for years for a legal duty of candour to be enforced on healthcare providers in the UK.

November 2014 marked an historic advance in patients’ rights and patient safety in England with the introduction of a statutory duty of candour (a legal duty to be open and honest with patients about incidents that have caused or have the potential to result in significant harm).