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The Duty of Candour and Medical Negligence

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

What is the Duty of Candour?

The duty of candour is legislation in place that encourages all health and care professionals to be open and transparent with their patients, people under their care or their families.

First introduced in England in 2014, the Duty of Candour places a professional responsibility on the healthcare professional that after an error or safety incident has occurred that has caused the patient to suffer harm or distress they should:-

  • Notify the patient or family that the incident has occurred
  • Provide a full account of what they believe went wrong, why and what the consequences are likely to be
  • Apologise to the patient
  • Record details of the incident
  • Send a Duty of Candour Record of Notification to the patient or their family

The duty of candour, however, is not intended to be used where a patient’s condition deteriorates due to the natural progression of their illness.

The benefit of the duty of candour

Prior to the duty of candour legislation there may have been more of a tendency to brush incidents under the carpet in fear of professionals and institutions receiving criticism and blame. The open and honest approach of the duty of candour now:-

  • Provides staff with the opportunity to speak honestly with their patients with less fear of blame
  • Builds patient and health professional relationships
  • Encourages a learning culture by reporting errors in order for the same mistakes to be avoided
  • Gives professionals the opportunity to more openly admit their mistakes to the hospital or care provider they work for
  • Providing a patient or care receiver better care once a known error has occurred in order to treat the patient most effectively

Duty of Candour and Clinical Negligence

If you have been spoken to in person by your healthcare provider or received a duty of candour record of notification advising that something has gone wrong with you or your loved ones treatment or care, then you may have a clinical negligence claim if this error has gone on to cause harm, injury or death of a loved one.

The duty of candour does not necessarily suggest you have a Clinical negligence claim.

If you have however, received a Duty of Candour Record of Notification or have been advised that an incident has occurred that has caused you harm, we will be happy to discuss your enquiry with you further.

For a free initial consultation with our specialist Clinical Negligence Team please give us a call on 0800 088 6004

For more information check out GMC’s Ethical Guidance for Doctors on Duty of Candour

Katherine Cairns


Katherine Cairns


Katherine is a Solicitor within the Medical Negligence Team.