Openness and honesty when things go wrong: The professional duty of candour

Do you know what to do if something goes wrong?

In this joint guidance with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) we explore what being open and honest about mistakes means in practice. And whose responsibility it is to explain and record what has gone wrong.

We include practical advice on:

  • when and who you should apologise to
  • what to include in an apology
  • how to say sorry.

There is also a section on encouraging you to report errors, not only with your patients, but at your place of work to help promote a learning culture. 

This guidance was published 29 June 2015. 

This guidance was updated on 15 March 2022. This included updating the endnotes and referencing the latest arrangements and terminology for reporting adverse incidents and near misses across the UK. We also added the latest details about the statutory duty of candour in England, Scotland, Wales, and the proposals for this in Northern Ireland.