Quality regulator fines hospital for duty of candour failings

This is the second fine the regulator has issued this year for failures in complying with the duty of candour regulation.

The CQC has fined Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust £16,250. It has issued 13 fixed penalty notices of £1,250 each to the Trust for failing to notify patients or their family of safety incidents as soon as reasonably possible.

The fixed penalty notices relate to seven separate safety incidents between September 2016 and October 2017 where the duty of candour regulation had not been applied. The incidents range from medication errors, delays in diagnosis to missed opportunities to investigate a patient’s deteriorating condition.

CQC confirm that the hospital’s new leadership team have provided evidence of the action taken to ensure compliance with their legal responsibility under the duty of candour – this has included the introduction of duty of candour champions and board oversight of duty of candour compliance.

In January this year Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was fined £1,250 for a failure to comply with the duty of candour following the death of a baby. Although the trust had notified it as a notifiable safety incident, the family were not informed and did not receive an apology for three months

It is only a year ago that the patient safety charity, Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA) published its report on CQC inspection reports and regulation of the duty of candour.

AvMA’s report was critical of the CQC’s handling of duty of candour compliance at NHS trusts and recommended the development of a more robust framework for inspections to assist with assessing compliance, including being more proactive in publicising the fact that it is taking regulatory action with regard to the duty of candour. This AvMA argued would act as a “powerful incentive for organisations to comply and assure the public that the duty of candour is being taken seriously”.  

Duty of Candour: are you doing it right?

Cornwall’s fine is another reminder of the CQC’s increasing appetite to take regulatory action if there is evidence of non-compliance. Currently we have only seen the CQC issue fixed penalty notices but they can prosecute where such failings are uncovered.

Do get in touch if you require support with your hospital’s duty of candour compliance or other CQC issues – we have a friendly and expert team ready to help.

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