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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.