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The Duty of Candour in the Healthcare Profession

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

It is a well known fact of life that sometimes things go wrong and that is unfortunately no different within the healthcare sector.

When things do go wrong it is therefore important to have protections in place to ensure that the matter is dealt with and investigated appropriately.

The recent case brought by the Care Quality Commission (‘CQC’) against University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust (‘the Trust’) highlights the importance of the duty of candour, especially within the healthcare profession.

The Trust was found to have breached the duty of candour regulation following the death of a 91 year old patient. The case found that the Trust failed to disclose details to the family of the surgical procedure the patient had undergone, or apologise.

The duty of candour (‘the Duty’) is a statutory duty set out at regulation 20 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014. The result of this means that a health service must act in an open and transparent way in relation to the care and treatment they provide.

If something does go wrong, the Duty requires the healthcare professional to notify the relevant person that such an incident has occurred and to also provide reasonable support to them. The notification given must also follow with a notification in writing including the details of any enquiries that are to be made and also an apology.

In addition to being open and honest with their patients, healthcare professionals must also take this approach with any other parties involved to ensure that the relevant reviews and investigations can be as efficient as possible.

The Duty within the healthcare sector is particularly important because it encourages a culture of learning and prevention. Reporting procedures are in place so that professionals can learn from the mistakes previously made so that they can be investigated thoroughly to recognise why it happened, and to prevent it from happening again.

As solicitors who represent clients in Medical Negligence claims what we hear time and time again from our clients is “we just want to know what happened and to ensure this doesn’t happen to another family.” This is why the duty of candour is so important.

If you have concerns about medical treatment you have received please contact Wilson Browne specialist Medical Negligence Team.

Ellie Tait


Ellie Tait


Ellie is a solicitor currently working in the Commercial Property team at our Corby Office. Prior to joining the Commercial Property team Ellie has gained experience working in Commercial Litigation and Clinical Negligence.