GDC pledges to put openness and honesty at the heart of healthcare

shutterstock_185166815Regulators, including the General Dental Council (GDC), have recently pledged to do more to put openness and honesty at the heart of healthcare.

Leaders of eight of the UK professional healthcare regulators have published a joint statement, setting out their commitment to a duty of candour for healthcare professionals.

The common professional duty clarifies what the eight regulators expect of all the professionals registered with them, wherever they work across the public, private and voluntary sectors.

This joint statement is a milestone in ensuring universality across all the professions.

This common duty makes clear to patients what they can and should expect of those who treat them and give them confidence that, should professionals fall short of those expectations, regulators will respond accordingly.

Following the recommendations of Sir Robert Francis’ Inquiry into Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, the UK regulators of health and care professionals committed to work together to agree a joint statement on the professional duty of candour.

The regulators agree that all health and care professionals are expected to be candid and have explored the different ways this is expressed in each of its standards.

The regulators’ statement is aimed to serve as a reminder to all healthcare professionals of their duty, not only to be open and honest in their own dealings with patients, but also to remind and support colleagues to do the same.

The project has provided a valuable opportunity for joint working across regulators, supporting more consistent approaches and enabling joint conversations with patients’ representatives.

The working group will continue throughout the implementation phase and will work with patient groups as each regulator takes forward action to promote openness, honesty and candour across the NHS.

The joint statement says:
 ‘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:
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.

Regulators will continue to look at how the statement can be embedded across their work.

You can read the full statement here.

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