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Liz’s speech on ‘a duty of candour’ in the NHS

[15/12/2010 | No comment]

Every 36 hours, NHS services are used by some 1 million people, the vast majority of whom receive safe and effective care. None the less, as in every other health care system in the world, not all care in the NHS is as safe as it could be, and too many patients are harmed by it, sometimes seriously and even fatally.

Modern health services are delivered in a highly complex, often pressurised, environment, and involve the care of many vulnerable and seriously ill patients. More than any other environment in which risks occur, health care is reliant on people taking difficult decisions that rely on judgments that are not always straightforward or clear cut. In such circumstances, things can and do go wrong. Sometimes, as I know from my own experience, the consequences can be very serious for the patient, their family and their carers.

Patients and their families have a right to know if something has gone wrong, to get an explanation of what has happened and to receive an apology and, if appropriate, compensation.

To read Liz’s full speech, click here.

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