Scottish Duty of Candour: do you know your stuff?

As of April 1st 2018, health and social care providers in Scotland became bound by the duty of candour. In Laymen’s terms, this means providers must take steps to be more transparent with people who receive their care and, perhaps more importantly, learn from mistakes that are made.

Why the change?

Duty of candour responsibilities have been extended to health and social care providers in Scotland to ensure organisations are open, honest and supportive when an unexpected or unintended incident occurs, that results in either death or harm. And, on the back of such events, make changes to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

The key principles underlying the duty of candour include:

  • There’s always going to be a risk associated with any health and social care provision, so unexpected or unintended incidents resulting in death or harm can’t be avoided from time to time.
  • People who’ve been affected by certain incidents have the right to be told about what happened with honesty.
  • Affected individuals also have the right to be informed about what steps will be taken to ensure similar incidents don’t happen again in the future.
  • There’s a fundamental need for organisations within the health and social care sector to improve their support and training, and the transparency in which they disclose their learning.
  • Transparency is seen as increasingly important to improve the overall quality of the health and social care sector.
  • Duty of candour should promote accountability for safe systems, engage and encourage everyone to improve their efforts and result in greater levels of trust from service users and their loved ones.

What does it mean?

Under the new duty, providers will need to take specific steps following an incident, like:

  • Let the people affected know about the incident
  • Offer to meet with them to discuss the incident
  • Apologise for any ill-effects caused by the incident.

The duty also requires all care services to submit an annual report showing how many times they followed the duty of candour, what they learnt and what steps were made in light of those learnings.

How will this affect my Care Inspectorate rating?

The Care Inspectorate are working alongside other health and social care organisations to support the duty of candour. For simplicity, they’ve been asked to integrate the reporting and monitoring aspect of the duty into their existing notification processes.

Need some support?

If reading this has sparked concern about how you‘ll implement the duty of candour into your service’s policies and procedures, don’t panic – we can help.

When it comes to Health & Safety and HR in the care sector, we’re the experts. To see just how much we can start supporting you today, get in touch with the team on 0345 844 1111 or

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