Today, Dan Farthing-Sykes and Bill Wright were representing Haemophilia Scotland at an informal meeting with members of the Scottish Parliament Health and Sport Committee.
The Committee wanted to have a chat with us, and representatives from the Scottish Infected Blood Forum, about the new Duty of Candour proposed in the Health (Tobacco, Nicotine etc. and Care) (Scotland) Bill.
The Committee are aware of the issues raised in the Penrose Inquiry about people not being properly informed about the risks of treatment or being told that they were infected. They want to learn the lessons of the disaster as they discuss the new Duty of Candour.
The Duty of Candour is covered in Part 2 of the Bill. What this would mean is that, in the event that a person experiences (or could have experienced) an unintended or unexpected harm from their care, the organisation would have a duty to tell that individual. The Bill would also allow an apology to be given without it amounting to an admission of negligence or a breach of a statutory duty. The types of harm include death and severe harm, harm which is not severe but requires further treatment, changes the structure of the person’s body, shortens life expectancy or impairs sensory, motor or intellectual functions for at least 28 continuous days, Pain or psychological harm lasting at least 28 continuous days, or the person requires treatment by a doctor to prevent their death or any of the above.
The Committee are interested in the views of the bleeding disorders community about this. In particular,
- What are your views on whether health and social care organisations should be required by law to tell people that they have or could have experienced unexpected harm during their care?
- Do you think that the Bill should require organisations to apologise for any harm people actually caused (or which could have been caused)?
- What difference, if any, do you think this duty to apologise would make to you?
One of the point we made most strongly was that for an apology for a lack of candour to be meaningful it would have to come from the person or people who withheld information. We are also keen that any new duty supports a mutually respectful and open culture between patients and healthcare professionals. Ideally, these new processes should help strengthen that key relationship rather than be a source of conflict.
If you have a point you’d like the committee to be aware of then please email Dan Farthing-Sykes or give him a call in the office.