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Duty of Candour

The organisational duty of candour procedure is a legal duty which sets out how organisations should tell those affected that an unintended or unexpected incident appears to have caused harm or death. They are required to apologise and to meaningfully involve them in a review of what happened.

When the review is complete, the organisation should agree any actions required to improve the quality of care, informed by the principles of learning and continuous improvement.

They should tell the person who appears to have been harmed (or those acting on their behalf) what those actions are and when they will happen.

The duty of candour procedure provisions reflect our commitment to place people at the heart of health and social care services in Scotland.

We recognise that when unexpected or unintended incidents occur during the provision of treatment or care, openness and transparency is fundamental. This promotes a culture of learning and continuous improvement.

We have produced guidance on the implementation of duty of candour for all organisations that provide health services, care services or social work services in Scotland.

A Duty of Candour e-learning module 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.

More information