SCOTLAND | Duty of candour comes into effect

A new duty of candour is coming into effect on 1st April 2018 in Scotland.

The aim of this duty is to ensure organisations are open and transparent when an unintended or unexpected incident occurs during the provision of a health, care or social work service that results in harm or death (not related to the condition or illness for which a person is receiving care).

The focus is on reporting these kinds of incidents and ensuring a specified procedure is followed when they do occur.

What does the duty of candour involve?

This duty means that organisations must follow this procedure:

  • Inform the person affected or someone acting on their behalf within one month of the incident.
  • Offer a written apology (known as a ‘statement of sorrow or regret’) and provide it if requested. This will not be considered an admission of negligence or breach of a statutory duty.
  • Invite the person affected to attend a meeting and give them the opportunity to ask questions prior to the meeting.
  • Provide the person affected with a note of the meeting.
  • Conduct a review of the circumstances that led to the incident within three months.
  • Prepare a written report of the review and offer to send a copy to the affected person.
  • Ensure that all employees who carry out the duty of candour procedure are trained.
  • Provide support to the employee who is involved in an incident.
  • Keep a written record for each incident.

Organisations must also prepare an annual report on the duty of candour for each financial year and upon publishing, notify the Healthcare Improvement Scotland (for independent health care services); Scottish Ministers (for health services) and Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland (for care services or social work services).

Is this duty new?

For many organisations, it won’t be. Most will already be adhering to this duty of candour through their professional regulators’ code of conduct. 

What should organisations be doing in preparation for 1st April? 

April is fast approaching, so here are some things to think about:

  • Make sure you provide relevant training to all those who carry out the procedure
  • Ensure you have the systems in place to keep written records of incidents
  • Consider how and who will carry out a review into the circumstances leading to the incident
  • Identify who will be responsible for reporting at the end of the financial year

If you would like to discuss this further, please contact your Employment Law Adviser.

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James Tamm

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