Hospital staff will have legal duty to report harm, Hunt announces

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A duty of candour on doctors and nurses will be enforced from 2014, the health secretary has told MPs.

He outlined changes to the way the NHS is inspected as part of the government's response to the Francis inquiry in a statement to the Commons on 19 November 2013.

Robert Francis QC began an inquiry in 2010 into abuse and neglect in Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, believed to have contributed to hundreds of deaths between 2005 and 2008.

A statutory duty to tell patients about cases where there has been avoidable harm will come into force next year.

There will be a further consultation on reducing or removing hospitals' indemnity from litigation awards if staff have not been honest with patients.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said these measures would be "a blueprint for restoring trust in the NHS, re-enforcing professional pride in NHS frontline staff and above all giving confidence to patients that after Mid Staffs, the NHS has listened".

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham acknowledged that "what happened at Mid Staffs was a betrayal of the NHS and its values" and said "the last government rightly apologised".

He continued: "It is my job to press you on where we feel you could have gone further and question why of the 290 Francis recommendations, 86 are not being implemented in full."

Mr Hunt responded: "Governments do not always accept every single recommendation but what I have said today is that we do accept all the principles behind every single one of Robert Francis' recommendations."

Conservative MP for Stafford Jeremy Lefroy welcomed the announcement as "the least that those who suffered from dreadful neglect and their loved ones who campaigned for justice deserve" and Labour campaigner on care standards Ann Clwyd stressed the importance of patients getting independent help to raise complaints.

Lib Dem MP and former health minister Paul Burstow wanted assurance the courts would "prosecute if the fundamental standards are breached", to which Mr Hunt said the aim was to "create a culture where it does not get to that point".

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