Working with doctors Working for patients

About this guidance

1. All healthcare professionals have a duty of candour – a professional responsibility to be honest with patients1 when things go wrong. This is described in The professional duty of candour, which introduces this guidance and forms part of a joint statement from eight regulators of healthcare professionals in the UK.

2. As a doctor, nurse or midwife, you must be open and honest with patients, colleagues and your employers.

3. This guidance complements the joint statement from the healthcare regulators and gives more information about how to follow the principles set out in Good medical practice2 and The Code: Professional standards of practice and behaviour for nurses and midwives.3 Appendix 1 sets out relevant extracts from General Medical Council (GMC) and Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) guidance. This guidance applies to all doctors registered with the GMC and all nurses and midwives registered with the NMC across the UK.

4. This guidance is divided into two parts.

a. Your duty to be open and honest with patients in your care, or those close to them, if something goes wrong. This includes advice on apologising (paragraphs 6–21).

b. Your duty to be open and honest with your organisation, and to encourage a learning culture by reporting adverse incidents that lead to harm, as well as near misses (paragraphs 22–28).

5. This guidance is for individuals. We recognise that care is normally provided by multidisciplinary teams, and we don’t expect every team member to take responsibility for reporting adverse incidents and speaking to patients if things go wrong. However, we do expect you to make sure that someone in the team has taken on responsibility for each of these tasks, and we expect you to support them as needed.