Duty of Candour

The new duty of candour came into effect on 1 April. It affects all health, social work and care services except childminders. It means that services must take specific steps to carry out their duty of candour when a serious adverse event happens. They will need to let the people affected know, offer to meet with them, and apologise. This is an important part of being open with people who experience care, and also learning from things that go wrong.

Starting from April 2019, care services and social work services must, by law, produce a short annual report showing the learning from their duty of candour incidents that year, publish it, and notify us that it has been published. That means the first annual report services produce will cover the period April 2018 to April 2019.

Regulations and guidance about the duty of candour process have been issued by the Scottish Government and you can find it here. It has also issued a guidance letter, which you can read here. An online learning module is available now. This explains more about the duty of candour and helps services and their staff understand their obligations. We strongly encourage services and their staff to undertake this module here.

We have included a question in our notification forms, “does this incident trigger the duty of candour?” This allows us to collect data on how the duty is being implemented and help embed awareness.

The first annual duty of candour reports will be due after April 2019 and it is important that services plan ahead. Even if there are no incidents to which the duty applied, a short report will still be required, as it must contain information about staff training on the duty of candour.

For social work services, we will ask local authority chief social work officers to notify us that they have published a duty of candour report after 6 April 2019.

For care services, we will amend future annual returns, to ask services if they have published a duty of candour report.

From April 2019, we may ask to review services’ duty of candour reports or examine them as part of our overall scrutiny of care services.

Our role in developing the reporting and monitoring

The Scottish Government asked the Care Inspectorate to chair a small working group looking at how the reporting should take place, and what kind of monitoring should happen.

The group comprised key representatives from health and social care and was chaired by Rami Okasha, Executive Director of Strategy and Improvement at the Care Inspectorate. It concluded its work in February 2017.

It made a series of recommendations and you can read the report here. For regulated services, the group recommended that the Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Improvement Services should try to integrate the reporting and monitoring into existing notification processes, to make it simple for providers.

The group recommended that health boards and social work departments should be free to select the best way to record information, and provided a series of template reports showing how annual reports should be made.

The Scottish Government responded to the report and you can read its response here. For more information on the duty of candour, there is lots of helpful information on the Scottish Government website here.