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Duty of candour

Regulators’ joint statement 

In October 2014, the GOsC and other regulators made a public commitment to strengthening and harmonising professional standards in relation to candour and the reporting of errors. Their joint statement sets out the following professional duty of candour:

‘Every healthcare professional must be open and honest with patients when something goes wrong with their treatment or care which causes, or has the potential to cause, harm or distress.

'This means that healthcare professionals must:Discussing treatment

      • tell the patient (or, where appropriate, the patient’s advocate, carer or family) when something has gone wrong;
    • apologise to the patient (or, where appropriate, the patient’s advocate, carer or family);
  • offer an appropriate remedy or support to put matters right (if possible); and
  • explain fully to the patient (or, where appropriate, the patient’s advocate, carer or family) the short and long term effects of what has happened.

‘Healthcare professionals must also be open and honest with their colleagues, employers and relevant organisations, and take part in reviews and investigations when requested. Health and care professionals must also be open and honest with their regulators, raising concerns where appropriate. They must support and encourage each other to be open and honest and not stop someone from raising concerns.’

The duty of candour is common across healthcare professions, but it is recognised that different health professions and their regulators work in different ways – for example, the management and working relationships in osteopathic practice settings are very different from those in NHS hospitals. We will work with the osteopathic profession and with the other regulators to ensure that standards promoting candour are appropriate to osteopathic practice and consistent with other health practices.

Osteopathic Practice Standards 

Osteopathic Practice StandardsThe Osteopathic Practice Standards make numerous references to candour in practice, most notably Standard D7: ‘Be open and honest when dealing with patients and colleagues and respond quickly to complaints.’

But the professional duty of candour expects health professionals to be more proactive: telling patients when something has gone wrong, rather than simply responding to complaints.

We will be reviewing the Osteopathic Practice Standards in 2015-16, and will consider whether the guidance accompanying Standard D7 should be broadened and strengthened.

If you would like to help us explore the issues outlined in the joint statement, look at scenarios where the duty of candour would apply, and identify issues or difficulties that may arise in practice, please email candour@osteopathy.org.uk