Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced radical changes in how the NHS will deal with medical accidents in England.

Under a ‘duty of candour’ proposal healthcare providers must openly disclose when moderate or severe harm occurs as a result of a medical accident, provide an apology along with all relevant information such as medical records and important documentation.

Mr Hunt hopes that implementing a ‘duty of candour’ to the NHS will half the number of people suffering avoidable harm over the next 3 years and in so doing saving 6000 lives in the process.

Since the Mid -Staffordshire Public Inquiry there has been momentum towards improving patient care and reduce the risk of harm and neglect.

Ison Harrison’s Head of Medical Negligence Nancy Fairbairn welcomes the introduction of the new duty;  “The failure of medical staff to be open and honest when things go wrong causes immense distress to patients.  The need to find out what has happened is often one of the main reasons why people pursue legal claims.   Being more open when mistakes are made should result in raising standards of care and improving patient safety.

In my opinion the key element in reducing harm is having enough well trained and motivated staff and this is the key challenge.

The duty of candour is a step in the right and we need to correctly implement  in order to ensure patients and their families are told the truth when things go wrong and  that the NHS learns from its  mistakes.”