Recommendation 175

Patients questions answered fully and honestly

Full and truthful answers must be given to any question reasonably asked about his or her past or intended treatment by a patient (or, if deceased, to any lawfully entitled personal representative).

All regulated professionals through the principles that underpin their standards and codes of conduct are required to be open and transparent with patients in respect of discussions about treatment and care. As set out in recommendation 181, the General Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council  will be working with the other regulators to agree consistent approaches to candour and reporting of errors, including a common responsibility across doctors, nurses and other health professions to be candid with patients when mistakes occur whether serious or not.  The Department of Health will also ask the Professional Standards Authority to advise and report on progress with this work. The professional regulators will also review their guidance to panels taking decisions on professional misconduct to ensure they take proper account of whether or not professionals have raised concerns promptly.


Eight UK professional healthcare regulators published a joint statement in October 2014 which sets out a professional duty of candour. The statement clarifies what the regulators expect from health professionals wherever they work across the public, private and voluntary sectors. In addition, the General Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council have launched a public consultation on draft joint guidance which is designed to support doctors, nurses and midwives in fulfilling their professional duty to be open and honest about mistakes. The proposals cover the need to learn from ‘near misses’ as well as when something goes wrong and a patient is harmed. There is also advice on apologising to patients and those close to them. The draft guidance calls on clinical leaders and employers to support doctors, nurses and midwives by creating cultures in the workplace that are open, honest, and where people learn from mistakes so that future patients are protected from harm. The consultation closed on 05 January 2015 and the two professional regulators will aim to publish their new joint guidance in March 2015.