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New ‘duty of candour’ regulations aim to raise standards of medical care

In December last year I wrote about Government plans to push ahead with the implementation of a ‘duty of candour’ in the standard NHS contract.

Defined as the volunteering of relevant information to individuals who have been harmed (or indeed who may have been harmed) through the provision of services, it is hoped that the introduction of a duty of candour will see secrecy and cover ups following medical negligence becoming a thing of the past.

Medical Negligence solicitors such as myself have long believed that having this duty underpinned by law will lead to better standards of medical care. This view is one shared by Robert Francis in his report into the failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.

In addition to raising standards, from a legal viewpoint the early admission of errors following medical negligence accidents will help provide quicker redress for patients and their families. I am pleased to report therefore that the Government now accepts the need for a statutory duty of candour. Even better, while previously it was suggested that only negligence which leads to severe permanent injuries or death would fall under this duty, the health secretary Jeremy Hunt has now revealed that medical negligence that causes moderate harm will also be considered under the new regulations. In addition the regulations also look likely to be applied to policymakers and regulators as well as medical professionals.

This announcement, although long overdue is extremely good news for patients.

To find out more about making a medical negligence compensation claim read our handy step-by-step guide here.

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