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New laws for more open and safe NHS care come into force

Duty of Candour and Fit and Proper Person’s Test will help improve patient safety, transparency and leadership in the NHS.

The 2 new laws came into force yesterday. The Duty of Candour places a legal duty on hospital, community and mental health trusts to inform and apologise to patients if there have been mistakes in their care that have led to significant harm.

The introduction of the Duty of Candour is an important step in ensuring a more honest and open culture in the NHS, particularly when things go wrong. It is a major milestone in the government’s response to the Francis report into Mid Staffordshire, which called for a more open culture in the NHS. It forms part of a wider package of measures designed to support this.

The Fit and Proper Person’s Test will help to ensure strong and safe leadership in healthcare organisations. Under the new regulations, all NHS board members will be required to undergo the Test before they are appointed. This will include an assessment of their character and a robust consideration of whether the person has the right qualifications, skills and experience for the role. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) will check during their inspections that providers have strong systems in place to carry out these checks before an appointment is made.

The Fit and Proper Person requirement came into force for NHS healthcare bodies yesterday. It is intended to be extended to all other registered providers, such as care homes, in April 2015.

The CQC has published guidance for NHS organisations to help them meet the requirements of these new regulations.


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