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All healthcare providers have a professional responsibility to let you know when things go wrong. This is called a ‘duty of candour’.
It means that if an incident occurs and your care or treatment appears to have gone wrong and may have caused significant harm (or may cause harm in the future) they must be open and honest about it and tell you at the earliest opportunity.
Your healthcare provider must also:
- Apologise to you (preferably face-to-face) and follow this up in writing.
- Ensure details of the apology are recorded in your medical records.
- Offer an appropriate remedy or provide support to put matters right.
- Fully explain the short-term and the long-term effects of what happened.
These guidelines came into force in the NHS in 2014 following the mid-Staffordshire Inquiry which investigated the poor care standards and high mortality rates of patients at Stafford Hospital. A key recommendation of Sir Robert Francis’ report was the implementation of a statutory duty of candour.
If healthcare providers fail to comply with the statutory guidelines, it may result in the Care Quality Commission (CQC) taking regulatory action and in the most serious cases, they may even prosecute the organisation.
If you think your healthcare provider is in breach of their statutory obligations, you may want to approach them with your concerns. Duty of candour means that you should get answers about what exactly has gone wrong. Sometimes a full explanation and an apology is all you need to help you understand what happened and allows you to move on.
You can also make a formal complaint by writing to the Patient and Liaison Service (PALS) if the issue occurred in an NHS hospital or by writing to your GP or private consultant.
However, if something has gone wrong in your care or treatment and you think you may have suffered serious injury or illness due to medical negligence, you may want to take things further.
If you have concerns that your treatment or care has been potentially negligent, you should seek legal advice by contacting an experienced medical negligence solicitor and giving them the details of your case as soon as possible.
Only an expert solicitor specialising in medical negligence will have the necessary experience to ensure that your case is fully investigated and will secure the maximum compensation available if your healthcare provider is found to be negligent.
Novum Law has many years of experience helping people in a wide variety of medical negligence claims. If you or a loved one has received negligent medical care, you should contact our expert team of solicitors. Call 0800 884 0777 or email email@example.com.
If you’d like to find out more about duty of candour, the patient safety charity Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA) has a wealth of useful advice and information.