New refreshed guidance on the professional duty of candour

All healthcare professionals have a duty of candour – this is the professional duty to be open and honest with their colleagues, employers, professional regulators and relevant organisations when things go wrong.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council in collaboration with the General Medical Council updated its joint guidance on the professional duty of candour. The March 2022 update does not create any additional duties for professionals but focuses not only on the duty to be open and honest with patients but also on the need to be open and honest within organisations in reporting adverse incidents or near misses that have led to harm. The links and references have been updated.

The 16-page guidance note (was previously 14 pages) is divided into two parts:

  • The duty to be open and honest with patients or those close to them, if something goes wrong. This includes advice on apologising (paragraphs 7-22).
  • The duty to be open and honest with colleagues, employers and relevant organisations, and encourage a learning culture by reporting adverse incidents that lead to harm or near misses (paragraphs 23-29).

There is also a reminder of the statutory duty of candour. All health and care organisations have a “duty to support staff to be open and honest with patients if something goes wrong with their care”. Appendix 2 provides information on Regulation 20 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014.

This updated guidance complements the joint statement from the healthcare regulators and provides more information about how to follow the principles set out in Good medical practice and The Code: professional standards of practice and behaviour for nurses and midwives. Relevant extracts are set out at Appendix 1.

Healthcare professionals and health and care organisations can find out more about the professional duty of candour and how to apply it in practice by catching up on a NMC and GMC webinar here, which took place on 25 April and or you can view the webinar slides here.

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