NHS must be open over mistakes, says review

Hospital nurses A duty of candour was one of the recommendations of the Stafford Hospital public inquiry

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The NHS in England must be open and honest about mistakes, a government-commissioned inquiry recommends.

The review - by a leading surgeon and hospital boss - called for a statutory duty of candour on hospitals, GPs and other organisations when errors were made that caused significant harm.

Crucially for campaigners, the definition includes moderate levels of harm such as pressure ulcers.

The move had been called for by the Stafford Hospital public inquiry.

But when ministers unveiled their official response to the inquiry at the end of last year, this was one of the few recommendations they did not back in full.

There were concerns it could lead to more legal action being taken.

So instead the government set up this review, which was led by Royal College of Surgeons president Prof Norman Williams and Salford Royal Hospital chief executive Sir David Dalton, to look at how it should work in detail.

Prof Williams said his view was that patients were more interested in openness rather than money.

"When things do go wrong, patients and their families want to be told honestly about what happened, how it might be corrected and to know it will not happen to someone else," he added.

The review recommended the duty be placed on organisations not individuals and would cover the private health and social care sectors as well as the NHS.

The government is expected to make its final decision in the coming months.

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