The amendment I have signed to the Health and Social Care Bill that would place a “duty of candour” on NHS trusts has been highlighted in a letter from patients’  organisations to the Daily Telegraph today.

The amendment I have signed would require NHS bodies to tell patients when they make errors and cause harm.  According to the Telegraph report, the letter:

“the Government is merely “paying lip service” to the principle in its health bill, and that clauses meant to ensure trusts are more open will be “next to useless in preventing cover ups.”

Since April 2010 trusts have been legally obliged to provide anonymised reports of incidents causing significant harm to the National Reporting and Learning System.

However, they are not required to tell patients or the close family members, and the bill does nothing to address that.

Peter Walsh, of the charity Action against Medical Accidents, one of the 10 groups behind the letter, said: “The current situation means health organisations can effectively cover an incident up from a patient or family member, so long as it sends off an anonymised report.”

The letter also notes the duty of care, as envisaged in the Health and Social Care Bill, would not apply to GPs or dentists and “would only relate to incidents which had already been notified to official bodies”.”

The amendment which is currently signed by myself, the independent cross-bench peer, Baroness Masham of Ilton, and the LibDem, Baroness Tyler of Enfield, would make it necessary for healthcare organisations registered with the Care Quality Commission “to take all reasonable steps to ensure that a patient or, in the event of death or incapacity, their next of kin, are fully informed” of such safety incidents.

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