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Doctors Following Duty of Candour are Bullied, says BMA

By Principal Lawyer, Clinical and Medical Negligence

Since November 2014 and the introduction of The Health and Social Care Act, NHS Trusts have been required to advise all “patients” (the legislation refers to service users and so may be interpreted more broadly) of any “notifiable safety incidents”, which includes any incidents that could result in “significant harm”.

This is known as the Statutory Duty of Candour.

Further legislation introduced in April 2015 impacted on both primary and private care providers and, unfortunately, adopted the test that incidents be notified if they had resulted in harm.

Two alternative provisions are, therefore, currently available. Whilst NHS Trusts now have a positive duty to warn in all notifiable safety incidents, primary care trusts and private care providers do not need to be as open where damage has yet to result in significant harm.

At a time when great efforts were made to drive through such legislation to enforce openness and protect patient safety, the failure to mirror the standards across all care providers is a worrying anomaly.

The effectiveness behind the duty of candour was also recently highlighted by the British Medical Association’s own research in Wales. The BMA found that 60% of clinicians had raised a patient safety concern in the last three months – and that 60% of those had experienced bullying or harassment as a result.

It is also worrying that, of the 60% of patient safety issues raised, two-thirds had not resulted in any action being taken – be it through lack of resources, or lack of engagement in addressing the perceived risks.

To improve patient safety and reduce risks across the board, effective lessons need to be learned at all levels, and this needs to be demonstrated effectively to improve both safety and confidence.

We are all aware that the NHS is capable of providing fantastic treatment but given the BMA research, a cultural change must happen to enable effective learning and awareness to take place.

Tim Deeming is a Principal Clinical Negligence Lawyer at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.

For more information or a free consultation, call us 24/7 on freephone 0800 916 9049 or contact us online and we will call you.

NHS, Clinical Negligence

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