Duty of Candour

Open & honest

Organisations that provide health and medical services need to be able to learn effectively from what goes well and from what goes wrong. These are opportunities to improve the safety and quality of their services.

Duty of candour came into effect on 1st April 2018 and it's purpose is to ensure that organisations are open, honest and supportive when there is an unexpected or unintended incident resulting in death or harm, as defined in the Act.

If something goes wrong with your treatment or healthcare organisations have a duty to you or the person acting on your behalf to:

  • apologise,
  • be open and honest,
  • involve you in a review of what happened,
  • let you know how they will learn from what has happened,
  • These are legal obligations under the duty of candour procedure.


The duty of candour procedure must be followed as soon as possible after an unintended or unexpected incident which appears to have caused harm or death. The death or harm should not be related to the natural course of the illness or part of an underlying condition that you are being treated for. A health professional, not involved in your care, will decide if the duty of candour procedure must be followed.

The duty of candour procedure has 3 main stages:

  1. Notification of the incident, an apology and explanation of next steps.
  2. A face-to-face meeting to enable questions to be asked, information shared with the patient and an explanation given of further steps necessary to investigate and understand what went wrong.
  3. Review of what occurred, leading to a written report including what was found, what learning pints arose and all actions taken under the duty of candour procedure.

Annual Report

Organisations are required by law to publish an annual report outlining details of the duty of candour incidents that have occurred. Please be assured that this will not include any personal or identifying information.

Click here to read our report.