Doctors, Nurses and Midwives will have to offer verbal apologies to their patients for medical errors in accordance with guidance published on 29th June 2015 by the General Medical Council and Midwifery Council. This new open and honest approach, known as a “Duty of Candour” will now be expected when things “go wrong”.
It is believed that personal apologies from professionals will reduce anxiety and distress in patients. Professionals must therefore admit errors and explain their mistakes to their patients promptly, as soon as they are aware that something has gone wrong.
The guidance seeks to reassure staff, affirming that apologising ‘’doesn’t mean that we expect you to take personal responsibility for system failures or other people’s mistakes’’.
The guidelines will apply to all of the UK’s 234,000 Doctors and 686,000 Nurses and Midwives. Such measure is hoping to help combat clinical negligence claims, which cost the NHS 1.3 billion a year in damages and legal fees. The guidelines will make it harder for, and hopefully prevent, Doctors, Nurses and Midwives from remaining silent about failures for fear that they or their employer will face legal action.
Failure to meet the guidelines will mean that medical staff who receive complaints will be judged more harshly when being reviewed by a disciplinary body.
Alexia, Solicitor at The Specter Partnership Solicitors, comments on these new guidelines; “It is our experience that clients often look for remorse from their treating doctors. They are looking for that apology from their doctors when mistakes are made. These new guidelines will assist with this and hopefully slightly reduce the impact of mistakes made on the patients.”
The Specter Partnership