“Urgent” improvements to the way inspectors assess compliance with the new duty of candour law have been called for, following analysis that revealed the Care Quality Commission is failing to provide adequate details on the regulations in a quarter of its reports on hospitals.
Patient charity Action against Medical Accidents found that from a sample of 90 CQC reports from hospital inspections in 2015, 7% did not refer to the law at all and 19% were “superficial” in how they dealt with the regulations.
The law was introduced in November 2014 following a recommendation by the 2013 Francis report into care failings at the former Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.
It places a legal duty on hospital, community and mental health trusts – and more recently GPs and all other providers registered with the CQC – to inform and apologise to patients if there have been mistakes in their care that have led to significant harm.
“Having fought so hard to get a statutory duty of candour, we are deeply disappointed about how the CQC has regulated this so far”
Action against Medical Accidents said it was “disappointed” and “surprised” that in the first year of the law’s introduction the CQC had taken an inconsistent and superficial approach to its assessment.
It said it was “totally unacceptable” that six inspections “paid no attention at all to the duty of candour”. The charity called for “urgent” improvements to the way the CQC regulated duty of candour regulations.
It made a series of recommendations including that the CQC use a more robust and consistent method of assessing compliance with the candour law, as well as more in-depth analysis of why organisations may not be adhering to the regulations and suggestions for improvement.
“We still believe the duty of candour is potentially the biggest breakthrough in patient safety and patient rights in modern times, but we have always said that its success will depend to a large extent not only on the goodwill of providers, but on robust regulation by the CQC,” said Peter Walsh.
Professor Edward Baker, CQC deputy chief inspector of hospitals, said: “From these early inspections we identified the need for a more systematic approach to inspecting how well organisations are embedding the duty as part of their broader approach to learning from incidents and supporting people who use services and their families.
Relevant training: Using Empathy to Help Resolve Complaints
“Three out of four investigations by hospitals into complaints that patients suffered avoidable injury or death fail to identify serious failings in care, leaving distraught families in the dark.” Julie Mellor Parliamentary Health Ombudsman, Dec 2015
Description: A one-day course for ideal for those working with families raising an initial concern or following the official complaints procedure. Delegates will develop the confidence to handle such conversations with empathy, understanding and consistency. Staff will develop skills to implement openness, honesty and transparency and prevent prolonged psychological harm as stated in the Duty of Candour.
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