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Patient Charter of rights announced for NHS patients

By Principal Lawyer, Clinical Negligence

The NHS / CQC has today announced some very basic “rights” for patients.

Those new rights in full are;

1.       The right to a clean environment

2.       The right not to be abused or discriminated against

3.       The right to be protected from harm during treatment

4.       The right to pain relief when you need it

5.       The right to properly organised care on discharge

6.       The right to be helped to the toilet / with washing when you need it

7.       The right to enough food and drink and to be helped with eating and drinking if you need it

8.       The right to give consent

In response to this I would say the following;

Right number 1   - you would have hoped this was in place already

Right number 2 – if this is happening it is likely to be a criminal offence / GMC/ NMC matter

Right number 3 – this is covered by the common law of negligence

Right number 4 – ditto

Right number 5 – does this really need to be written down?

Right number 6 – ditto

Right number 7 – this is covered by the EU convention on Human Rights

Right number 8 – this is covered by common law / criminal law and GMC/ NMC guidance

What is interesting is what was missing, namely the “duty of candour”.

Doctors have an ethical duty to let patients know if something goes wrong which is set out in the GMC’s Good Medical Practice.

But if the Government believes in producing a list of “rights” that already exist then why not reinforce the duty of candour by including it in the Patient Charter of Rights?

From 1 April, the new standard NHS contracts have meant that all hospital doctors are subject to a contractual duty of candour if a “reportable patient safety incident occurs or is suspected to have occurred”. This is an event that results in moderate or severe harm or death.

Under the new rules, within 10 days of a reportable incident – sooner if possible – the provider must investigate what happened and the patient (or other relevant person) must be verbally informed of all known facts, preferably by the clinician involved in the incident, and given an apology. A written record must also be kept. If there is a breach of this contract, the commissioning body will be able to recover up to £10,000 from the provider.

Why was the duty of candour omitted from the Patient Rights Charter?

By Clinical Negligence Solicitor James Bell.

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