Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Government review to create a more open healthcare system [April 2024]

The press release issued by the Department of Health and Social Care on 16 April 2024.

A new call for evidence launched today aims to capture and consider views about how the duty of candour is honoured, monitored and enforced.

  • Duty of candour being examined to ensure honesty and transparency
  • Call for evidence to explore whether current system is working as it should
  • The review follows a number of measures to boost patient safety

The government is reviewing how patients and their families are kept informed when healthcare goes wrong.

A new call for evidence launched today (16 April 2024) aims to capture and consider views about how the duty of candour system is honoured, monitored and enforced in health and social care settings.

The duty of candour requires health and care providers to be open and honest when things go wrong. It means that patients and families have a right to receive explanations for what happened as soon as possible and a meaningful apology.

The current system has been in place for a decade and this review will look at how it is operating amid concerns that there is some inconsistency in how it is being applied.

Minister for Mental Health and Women’s Health Strategy, Maria Caulfield, said:

I spent 20 years working as a nurse in the NHS, and I know how important it is that health and care providers are open with patients and their loved ones – especially if something has gone wrong.

I want to ensure that our system of duty of candour is kept up to date, so I urge anyone with views or experience to respond to the call for evidence to help inform our review, which will ensure that honesty and integrity remain at the heart of our health and social care services.

The duty of candour review call for evidence has opened today and will run for 6 weeks.

It follows a range of measures the government has announced to improve patient safety. In February, the department announced the rollout of Martha’s Rule to over 100 acute sites by March 2025. Martha’s Rule entitles patients and family members, who are concerned that their condition is deteriorating, to initiate a rapid review by someone outside of their initial care team.

This week, the Department of Health and Social Care also confirmed that the strengthening of death certificate safeguards would come into force in September, with medical examiners looking at the cause of death in all cases that have not been referred to the coroner.

The review into duty of candour has gained widespread support from the health and care sectors, which see the review as an important way to ensure that healthcare providers are adhering to best practice.

Patient Safety Commissioner, Henrietta Hughes, said:

I welcome the fact that duty of candour is being reviewed because it is important that people do not struggle to get information when something has gone wrong. Working with patients as partners is an opportunity for us to learn and improve.

I would urge the public and clinicians to respond to this call for evidence.