Time for Poots to concede Duty of Candour

Admin —  March 29, 2014
Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:-“Following today’s revelation of 20 serious incidents now being reported by the Northern Health Trust, including 11 deaths, I attended a briefing this afternoon with the leadership of the Trust.

“While I appreciate the detail provided, I was disappointed that the Trust was not prepared to reveal in how many of the cases there had been late reporting to the coroner and to the affected families. Such an approach does not help build confidence and aid the culture of transparency which the Trust claims it is seeking to build. Nor was the Trust willing to reveal how many incidents of discipline had resulted from these incidents, or their late reporting. I’m not looking for a witch hunt of staff, but I do feel the public are entitled to basic information.

“The upsurge in the number of reports of SAIs is in itself alarming, though I am somewhat reassured that work to dispel the previous culture of secrecy has resulted in the figures being boasted by belated reports. The culture of secrecy, which in some incidents, I believe, involved cover up, must totally become a thing of the past. When adverse incidents occur families are entitled to know and to know promptly.

“Thus, I am disappointed that the minister is still resisting bring in a statutory duty of candour. I recently asked him this Question:

Question: To ask the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety when a statutory duty of candour will be introduced in respect of health care providers.

His answer dodges the issue and makes no commitment to a statutory duty of candour:

Answer: The principles of openness and transparency are fundamental elements of quality. The statutory duty of quality was placed on HSC Trusts as part of the Health and Personal Social Services (Quality, Improvement and Regulation)(Northern Ireland) Order 2003 and is further described in the Department’s Quality Standards (2006).

A statutory duty of candour is one element of the Francis Report which is under consideration by my Department. It is important to note that the need for candour is already a professional requirement of many individual staff working in the HSC.

“Only a statutory duty of candour will provide for an enforceable system of timely reporting of serious adverse incidents. Without it we will continue to encounter statements and belated revelations such as that of today.”

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