According to new guidelines, face-to-face explanations and apologies will need to be given to patients or close ones when things regarding their treatment and wellbeing go wrong. The guidance follows Sir Robert Francis’ call for a more open and transparent culture within healthcare in his report following the failures in patient care at Mid Staffordshire hospital.


The General Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council created the guideline which states that medical staff should speak to a patient, or those close to them, as soon as possible after they realise something has gone wrong with their care. Staff are also urged to apologise to the patient and “use their professional judgement about whether to inform patients about near misses – incidents which have the potential to result in harm but do not”. Along with this, any errors should also be reported by staff should also report errors at an early stage “so that lessons can be learned quickly, and patients are protected from harm in the future”.


Furthermore, as stated by the guidance, concerns raised by colleagues regarding patient safety should not be prevented by doctors or nurses. “Managers must make sure that if people do raise concerns they are protected from unfair criticism, detriment or dismissal”, the guidance notes. The GMC and the NMC stressed that “professionals need to have the support of an open and honest working environment where they are able to learn from mistakes and feel comfortable reporting incidents that have led to harm”.

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