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Duty of Candour

The organisational duty of candour provisions of the Health (Tobacco, Nicotine etc. & Care)(Scotland) Act 2016  and The Duty of Candour (Scotland) Regulations 2018 came into force on 1 April 2018.

Guidance has been produced which focuses on the implementation of the duty of candour procedure for all organisations that provide health services, care services or social work services in Scotland.

The purpose of the new duty of candour provisions is to support the implementation of consistent responses across health and social care providers when there has been an unexpected event or incident that has resulted in death or harm, that is not related to the course of the condition for which the person is receiving care.

The Scottish Government recognise that when adverse events occur during the provision of treatment or care, openness and transparency is fundamental in promoting a culture of learning and continuous improvement in health and social care settings.

The duty of candour procedure provisions reflect the Scottish Government’s commitment to place people at the heart of health and social care services in Scotland.   When harm occurs the focus must be on personal contact with those affected; support and a process of review and action that is meaningful and informed by the principles of learning and continuous improvement.

There is an organisational emphasis on staff support and training to ensure effective implementation of the organisational duty.  Staff must feel that they have the necessary skills and confidence if they are to be meaningfully involved in the delivery of the duty of candour procedure.

An E-Learning resource has been produced by NHS Education for Scotland, The Scottish Social Services Council, The Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Improvement Scotland. Relevant staff should be encouraged to complete the module which takes no longer than an hour

 Key Principles:

  • Providing health and social care services is associated with risk and there are unintended or unexpected events resulting in death or harm from time to time.
  • When this happens, people want to be told honestly what happened, what will be done in response, and to know how actions will be taken to stop this happening again to someone else in the future.
  • There is a need to improve the focus on support, training and transparent disclosure of learning to influence improvement and support the development of a learning culture across services.
  • Candour is one of a series of actions that should form part of organisational focus and commitment to learning and improvement.
  • Transparency, especially following unexpected harm incidents is increasingly considered necessary to improving the quality of health and social care.
  • Being candid promotes accountability for safer systems, better engages staff in improvement efforts, and engenders greater trust in patients and service users.