The BMA is liaising with the General Medical Council (GMC) to ensure that the Francis report recommendations are implemented in the best way possible.
We need to ensure that any new duties will strengthen and improve the system without compromising the existing regulatory framework.
The government has stated it will review the proposed duty on individuals following the publication of the Berwick Review of patient safety, commissioned by the Government following the Francis Report.
In a letter to the BMA the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt has indicated that the government might look to apply existing methods of criminal prosecution more effectively.
Read the health secretary's letter to the BMA on duty of candour
View the Berwick Review into patient safety
The BMA supports the principle underlying the idea of a duty of candour and believes that all NHS staff must be honest and transparent in everything that they do in order to best serve and protect their patients.
The existing professional duties on doctors to be open and honest with patients about their care, and the sanction for any failure, underpin these standards. There are already a number of ways in which healthcare workers, including doctors, can be prosecuted using both criminal and civil proceedings in connection with dishonest behaviour or action endangering patients.
We believe the introduction of a statutory duty of candour with criminal sanctions for individuals would not add anything substantive to the existing routes and could have the opposite effect of that intended. The threat of criminal prosecution for an act committed in the course of treating a patient (whether accidentally, negligently or purposefully) could, instead, worsen the culture of fear amongst professionals that prevents people speaking out.
However, we do support the proposed new statutory duty of candour on organisations as the existing mechanisms for holding providers to account require strengthening.
View our full briefing and position on a statutory duty of candour