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Duty of Candour


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The Health (Tobacco, Nicotine etc. and Care) (Scotland) Act 2016 [1] introduced a statutory organisational duty of candour on health, social care and social work services in Scotland, including dental practices. The legislation sets out a range of things that need to happen when an unexpected or unintended incident or harm has occurred. The overall purpose of the duty is to ensure that organisations are open, honest and supportive of both the person and staff involved when there is an unexpected or unintended incident resulting in death or harm that is not related to the course of the condition for which the patient is receiving care.

The procedure to be followed if a duty of candour incident occurs is set out in The Duty of Candour (Scotland) Regulations 2018 [2]. This is in addition to the General Dental Councils’ professional duty of candour that exists for dental professionals. The procedure is carried out by the ‘responsible person’ as defined in the Act and includes notifying the person affected, apologising and offering a meeting to give an account of what happened. The duty also requires that the organisation reviews each incident and considers the support available to those affected.

An online learning module has been co-produced by NHS Education for Scotland, Scottish Social Services Council, The Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Improvement Scotland to support health and social care staff to understand the duty itself and their role and responsibilities. Staff should be encouraged to complete the learning module. A trainer resource is also available to facilitate a duty of candour workshop. (A TURAS  account is required).

Further information and support can be found on the Healthcare standards pages of the Scottish Government website [3] including FAQs [4] and Organisational Duty of Candour guidance [5].