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Duty of Candour

The duty of candour provisions in the Health (Tobacco, Nicotine etc. and Care) (Scotland) Bill were given Royal Assent on April 6, 2016. A target implementation date of April 1, 2018 has been agreed.

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 principles of candour already inform the approach that is taken in many organisations. The professional duty currently applies to many health and social care professionals across Scotland as this is a part of the requirements of their practice by their professional regulators.

Scotland is a world leader, internationally recognised for the safety and quality of the health and social care provided across the country. When areas for change and improvement are identified through the range of quality and safety monitoring arrangements in place, dedicated improvement support is provided where this is required.

Regulations will be developed using powers created by Section 22 of the new Act. These will set out the detail of the Duty of Candour Procedure to be followed by each organisation. These Regulations will be legally binding and require the approval of the Scottish Parliament. 

Guidance will be issued to support implementation of the duty of candour part of the Act and outline supportive information on how the Act is applied in practice. It will address how the duty can be integrated with existing processes for responses to complaints, adverse event and incident reporting — emphasising the requirements for support, training and identification of learning and improvement actions.

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.