Intended for healthcare professionals

Views And Reviews

True candour

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 03 December 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6754
  1. Giles Maskell, radiologist
  1. Truro, UK
  1. gilesmaskell{at}

Currently the approach taken to duty of candour implies a dichotomy between “things going well” and “mistakes being made”

Candour is a word that was rarely heard in hospital until relatively recently. Its traditional meaning was more or less synonymous with “frankness” or “honesty.” In his report into Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, Robert Francis applied a specific definition in the context of healthcare: “The volunteering of all relevant information to persons who have or may have been harmed by the provision of services, whether or not the information has been requested and whether or not a complaint or a report about that provision has been made.”

Following one of his recommendations, this has been enshrined in UK law as a statutory …

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