An explanation about a medical accident, and the lack of an apology, made up 45% of inquiries to AvMA in 2022.

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The NHS patient safety strategy: safer culture, safer systems, safer patients. 2019;

Ockenden D Findings, conclusions, and essential actions from the independent review of maternity services at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (Ockenden report—final). 2022;

Telling patients the truth when something goes wrong: Evaluating the progress of professional regulators in embedding professionals’ duty to be candid to patients. 2019;

Safer care for all, Solutions from professional regulation and beyond. 2022;

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Duties of candour: being open and honest with patients

06 April 2023
Volume 32 · Issue 7

Good patient communication strategies are an essential prerequisite for developing an effective NHS patient safety culture and the NHS needs to improve on its efforts. We have seen repeatedly in reports of investigations into NHS patient safety crises that major failings have been identified.

If we take some of the most recent patient safety reports, we see tragic failings in communication to patients and between health professionals, such as in East Kent.

‘Staff were disrespectful to women and disparaging about the capabilities of colleagues in front of women and families. A family member heard a consultant describe the unit they were in as “unsafe” to a colleague in the corridor, which was hardly the way to raise any legitimate concerns they may have had.’

Kirkup, 2022:4

In Shropshire and Telford, the review found evidence that complaint responses lacked transparency and honesty:

‘The review team has identified families where care was sub-optimal, where different management would likely have made a difference to the outcome, however the complaint responses justified actions, delays and omissions in care. In addition, they often lacked compassion and in a number of responses it was implied that the woman herself was to blame.’

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