CQC fines trust for breach of the duty of candour regulations

The health and care regulator has given West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust the maximum fine for breaches of the duty of candour regulation following an incident in October 2018. This is the second time this year that the Care Quality Commission has fined a trust for failures in complying with the duty of candour regulation.

The CQC issued two fixed penalty notices of £1,250 to the trust because it had failed to comply with the duty of candour regulations requiring providers to be open and honest with patients and their families when something goes wrong or that appears to have caused signification harm.

According to the CQC’s press release, the fixed penalty notices relate to complications during childbirth where a patient died. These two breaches of duty of candour regulations were:

  • failing to notify the family as soon as reasonably possible that an incident had occurred; and
  • the trust did not provide the family with an account of the incident or offer an appropriate apology to them in a timely manner.

The CQC’s inspectors followed up directly with the trust to understand what actions had been taken and if any were still required. The trust was also required to evidence the steps it had taken to strengthen the processes in place to ensure compliance with the duty of candour in future.

Commenting on the fine, Fiona Allinson, CQC’s deputy chief inspector of hospitals, said:

“We will always take action where organisations have failed people and their families, and we will continue to monitor the trust to ensure they have learnt from this and these mistakes aren’t repeated.”

CQC’s latest regulatory action is a reminder that the duty of candour has teeth, to some extent and breach of the duty has both financial and reputational consequences. Boards should assure themselves that their policies are clear and their staff are aware of what is required, to ensure that organisations are compliant.

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