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Duty of candour will overburden GPs, says BMA

A statutory duty of candour in Scotland could create ‘significant amounts of unfunded work’ for GPs and ‘divert them away from core activities’, the BMA has told MSPs on the health and sport committee.

The BMA argues that GPs may have to spend excessive time on form filling and dealing with the admin in the aftermath of a patient complaint, when procedures already exist for this.

The Scottish Government is planning to introduce a statutory duty of candour via the Health (Scotland) Bill.

This would bring a legal requirement for health and social care professionals in Scotland to inform people and/or their families when they have been accidentally harmed as a result of treatment.

Written evidence has been submitted on the issue by the BMA for consideration at a health and sport committee meeting today.

It states: ‘Particular consideration should be given to the impact of this proposed duty on individual GP practices where the additional workload and requirements set out in a statutory duty of candour would have a disproportionate effect on individual practices and could create significant levels of unfunded work which would divert GPs and their staff away from their core clinical activities.

‘We would welcome the opportunity to consider a comprehensive analysis of the expected impact of the introduction of this new duty in terms of administrative resource and time burden against the expected gain for patients, over and above the existing provisions already in place to protect patients and healthcare professionals.’

Another section says: ‘In general practice, appropriate resourcing for staff training and implementation would need to be identified and agreed prior to the introduction of a statutory organisational duty of candour.’

The Scottish Government undertook a public consultation between October 2014 and January 2015 on proposals to introduce a statutory duty of candour. An analysis of the responses showed that about 80% of respondents agreed that legislation should be put in place.

A statutory duty of candour for the NHS in England was introduced in November last year. Last January former Northern Ireland health minister Jim Wells announced plans for a similar duty in Northern Ireland, while the Welsh Government set out proposals in July. 

Readers' comments (8)

  • Totally agree with this approach.

    There is no longer any space/ time in General Practice to take on duties, regardless of how important they are.

    If new workload in introduced there needs to be a realistic look at which parts of the workload can be scrapped to accommodate it.

    Making something a duty has the same implications on workload as making something part of a contract or enhanced service.

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  • I raised concerns about the potential misdiagnoses of dementia with my former employers, NHS Forth Valley. I did so by following the appropriate line management system.

    Initially I had some support. However this did not last.

    For raising concerns (duty of candour) I suffered hugely. So did my family. I was mischaracterised by senior colleagues, isolated and bullied. I eventually resigned.

    "Duty of candour" sounds the right thing. But we must be careful as it could end the career of well-respeceted, dedicated doctors who only wish to put patients first.

    Dr Peter J Gordon
    Consultant Psychiatrist for Older Adults

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  • I agree with Dr Gordon.It sound very good on paper.when it comes to implementing new doctors are being bullied.this is just hypocrisy.where is the investment needed to improve General Practice.!!!,

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  • Vinci Ho

    Politically correct diplomacy Vs Dangerously flawed hypocrisy

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  • Can only work if there were criminal sanctions against people such as managers and those in deaneries who lie, cover up and victimise and target whistle blowers and trainees. Legislation is needed which is similar to that which exists in the US.

    Health managers also need a regulatory body. At present they lack accountability.

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  • So let me get this right....
    The government wants all Doctors to be legally forced to be candid ...
    But when over 200,00 health workers speak candidly about the competance of Jeremy Hunt they are effectively ignored by this issue not being debated in parliament.
    So do they want GP's to be candid in some areas but not others? Are there going to be guidelines for this in any future legislation?????

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  • Peter j Gordon---dude amigo colleague ..sadly bullies all work together they know each other and if as a medic you go against the grain you will be ...flunked

    Sorry for what happened but to deal with bullies it's school boy rules I am lead to believe always works ..the worst case scenario you have you head held up high and you walk strong .....

    Good luck

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  • My experience is that senior civil servants can get away with almost anything. There seems to be almost no accountability here.

    "Duty of candour" should apply to civil servants as well as managers, and healthcare workers

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