Duty of Candour
An obligation to report mistakes, both internally and to the patients they affect, would help to reduce the frequency of medical negligence and improve trust between practitioners and their patients.
A new definition for ‘mistakes’
One step beyond a Duty of Candour, a broader understanding of what constitutes a mistake in healthcare would similarly lift transparency within the NHS. A mistake may not eventuate in harm, but reporting on a missed step in protocol for instance could highlight areas for improvement.
It seems obvious, however evidenced breakdown in channels of communication has led to countless instances of patient neglect. As a firm which has seen a rise in the number of clinical negligence claims we deal with this year alone, our fear is that communication between both patient and doctor, as well as between management and staff, lacks consistency at present.
Incentives like counselling and financial support for time spent aiding investigations outside of work hours would likely help to encourage transparency amid a culture of silence. Helping staff at every level to speak out when things go wrong will only help systems improve.
The value of the NHS
If a more transparent NHS means the service can continue to function and provide world-class care, it’s important to promote the value of the service to those that work within it. From the ground up, educating health workers on the importance of transparency in care will also help to shift attitudes against reporting mistakes.
As part of their ongoing professional development, NHS staff could benefit from peer mentoring, sharing experiences and advice to mediate their skills and confidence.
Share the journey
Every day we read about cover-ups or a degree of scandal within the NHS. Publicising the work the NHS is undertaking to implement change, as well as admitting when things go wrong in a timely manner and not years afterward.