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Telling patients the truth when something has gone wrong – how have professional regulators encouraged professionals to be candid to patients?

We have just published our latest research: Telling patients the truth when something has gone wrong. This paper sets out the progress professional regulators we oversee have made in embedding the professional duty of candour (being open and honest to a patient when something has gone wrong in their care) across the UK since 2014.

The paper’s findings are based upon discussion groups with regulatory staff and fitness to practise panellists conducted by Annie Sorbie (Lecturer in Medical Law and Ethics at Edinburgh University) and questionnaires from regulators and stakeholders across health and care.

The paper makes the main following conclusions:

  • Regulators have made progress with initiatives to encourage candour. However, measuring the success of these initiatives is difficult.
  • Many of the barriers to professionals being candid remain the same as in 2014 when we last did work in this area.
  • Regulators could create more case studies of candour scenarios. This would help to better explain to professionals when to be candid and the regulatory consequences of not being candid.
  • Successful embedding of candour requires organisations across healthcare (not just regulators) to work together.

We have done work on this area before such as when the Government asked us to advise and report on regulators’ progress in these areas after the Francis Report. All our work on candour can be found here.

Contact Michael Warren, Policy Adviser, if you would like more details about the Authority's research into the professional duty of candour.

Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care

Contact: 

Christine Braithwaite, Director Standards and Policy
Reception: 020 7389 8030
E: Christine.Braithwaite@professionalstandards.org.uk

Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care

Notes to the Editor

  1. The Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care oversees nine statutory bodies that regulate health and social care professionals in the UK.
  2. We assess their performance and report to Parliament. We also conduct audits and investigations and can appeal fitness to practise cases to the courts if we consider that sanctions are insufficient to protect the public and it is in the public interest.
  3. We also set standards for organisations holding voluntary registers for health and social care occupations and accredit those that meet them.
  4. We share good practice and knowledge, conduct research and introduce new ideas to our sector. We monitor policy developments in the UK and internationally and provide advice on issues relating to professional standards in health and social care.
  5. We do this to promote the health, safety and wellbeing of users of health and social care services and the public. We are an independent body, accountable to the UK Parliament.
  6. Our values are at the heart of who we are and what we do. We are committed to being impartial, fair, accessible and consistent in the application of our values.
  7. More information about our work and the approach we take is available at www.professionalstandards.org.uk