Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt has today announced that a Duty of Candour will be introduced into the NHS in England and Wales in October 2014. This will require the NHS to be open and honest with patients about mistakes resulting in serious harm. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-26739490
Many of our clients are surprised to hear that this is not already the case. Lawyers have a professional obligation to tell clients if they have made a mistake, and most people assume that doctors would do the same. In fact, it has taken the Francis inquiry into failings at the Mid Staffordshire Trust and years of campaigning by the charity Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) to achieve this outcome. See http://www.avma.org.uk/
Patients often say that they have only come to us because they feel that Trust or surgery staff are not being open and honest with them. Dishonesty and cover-ups do occur in the NHS, and the new Duty of Candour should help to eradicate them.
Ewan Lockhart and I are panel solicitors for AvMA, and as such are recognised as experienced clinical negligence specialists, committed to help patients and their families. On behalf of all the team we congratulate AvMA on the success of its campaign.
Author: Frances Wright Clinical Negligence Team, Davies and Partners