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MPS’s response to the consultation on ‘Proposals to Introduce a Statutory Duty of Candour for Health and Social Care Services’

Post date: 21/01/2015 | Time to read article: 1 mins

The information within this article was correct at the time of publishing. Last updated 01/04/2019

MPS fully supports a culture of openness in the NHS – a need for which was notably raised in the Francis Inquiry Report. We have long standing concerns that legal duties, such as a statutory duty of candour being proposed by the Scottish Government, fail to provide the impetus necessary for behavioural change. There is a risk that a legal duty of candour for health and social care services will encourage a bureaucratic, top-down, compliance-driven, blame culture which undermines a culture of transparency and learning.

MPS consistently raised concerns throughout the evolution of the statutory duty of candour in England and Wales, and similarly we have concerns with the proposals of the Scottish Government.

Problems with a legal duty of candour

A duty of candour will not create a culture of openness and learning

A statutory duty could prove counterproductive to the development of an open learning culture in healthcare. For any statutory duty to be effective, a system will be required to monitor compliance and apply sanctions. Any such system will inevitably distract from the original objective of ensuring openness with patients and learning from mistakes. This is why cultural change rather than legislation is the appropriate way of creating safe, responsive, patient centred care and high quality communication between professionals and patients. The legislation will instead result in a ‘tick-box’ reporting culture.

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