Duty of Candour

The new duty of candour will affect all health, social work and care services except childminders. From April 2018, services will need to take specific steps 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.

Social work services and care services (except for childminders) must carry out their duty of candour when certain incidents happen from April 2018. After April each year, from April 2019, care services and social work services must produce an annual report showing the learning from their duty of candour incidents that year, publish it, and notify us that it has been published.

Regulations and guidance about the duty of candour process will be issued by the Scottish Government before April 2018 and we will update you when this is published. An online learning module is available now. This explains more about the duty of candour and helps you and your staff understand their obligations. We strongly encourage you and your staff to undertake this module here.

From 1 April 2018, we plan to add a new question to our notification forms, “does this incident trigger the duty of candour?” This will allow us to collect data on how the duty is being implemented and help embed awareness.

After each April, the legislation requires care services and social work services to publish their own short duty of candour reports. The first reports will be due after April 2019, but it is important to start planning for this now. Once we have seen the statutory regulations and Scottish Government guidelines, we may issue guidance on writing a report. 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, Care Inspectorate staff may ask to review duty of candour reports or examine them as part of their 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.