Duty of Candour

What is the duty of candour?

The duty can be summarised as a duty to be open and honest when untoward events occur, in practice this means being open and honest with patients when things go wrong.

A statutory duty of candour applies to NHS Bodies (Trusts, Foundation Trusts, Special Health Authorities) from November 2014 and is contained within section 20 of the Health & Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014.

Following a government review by the Department of Health and a consultation by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) It is due to be introduced for all other providers of care registered with the CQC from April 2015. The final details are still being finalised however the principles established and in place for the duty of candour are likely to remain consistent.

This new statutory duty is aimed at organisations providing care to patients. It is part of a cultural shift aimed at ensuring honesty and transparency are integral to each and every healthcare organisation. Individual Practioners will continue to have their own duty of candour under their professionalism bodies’ codes of conduct.

What do I need to do?

It is important that consideration is given now to preparing for its introduction in April 2015. It applies to all providers of health and social care services who are registered with the CQC including private and publically funded care homes.

How do I comply?

The detail and guidelines contained in the Health & Social Care Act 2008 are a good starting point for understanding the extent of your duty, to which situations it applies and the action required by yourself. Please note at present the regulations are in place for NHS bodies only.

On becoming aware of a notifiable safety incident the health service body must notify the relevant person that the incident has occurred and:

  1. Provide an account detailing all facts known at time of incident
  2. Include an apology (defined as an expression of sorrow or regret)
  3.  Provide reasonable support to the service user
  4. Record the account in writing and keep securely

Does an apology mean I am admitting liability?

An expression of regret or apology does not necessarily equal an admission of legal liability.

You should ensure that any notification demonstrates compliance with the duty.

Planning and preparation for implementation in April 2015:

We have identified some key considerations you may wish to give thought to:

  • Understanding the definition of “notifiable safety incident”
  • Staff training on this definition and identification of such
  • Steps to be taken when a notifiable safety incident occurs
  • Reporting mechanism
  • Preparation of a template notification letter
  • Follow up and record keeping procedures

Additional information can be found at:



If you require any further assistance with this independent legal advice should be sought.

Should you wish to discuss any aspect of this further please contact your usual Zurich contact.