The Francis Inquiry Report into care failures at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust recommended the introduction of a duty of candour. From October 2014 the Duty of Candour will be part of the CQC regulations covering all providers of health or social care in England.

The duty falls on organisations providing healthcare rather than on individual healthcare professionals, but does require the organisation to ensure their staff are open with patients and their families where there have been failings in care.

Once the event has been identified, the duty requires the organisation to write to the patient concerned and include an apology. This will inevitably raise concerns about an apology amounting to an admission of liability. However, liability is a matter for the lawyers, and not an issue for health professionals. If you have any concerns about a particular case, contact the AOOSIS office for advice.

Doctors are already under a professional duty, set out by the GMC in Good Medical Practice, to be open and honest and tell patients when something has gone wrong and to comply with investigations into actual or suspected patient safety events. So, for doctors the basic principle of explaining what has happened