Patient safety charity Action Against Medical Accidents has called for legal action against Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and other ministers involved in the `watering down` of patient safety regulations in the NHS. The government have brought in a new `duty of candour` in a supposed attempt to improve safety after the mid Staffs scandal, but they seem to have brought in 2 tier approach to this.
This `duty of candour` will give less rights to patients who have not been in hospital, such as patients who have come from care homes or directed by GP`s there etc. This will mean that private care homes or GP`s will not have to disclose any worrying lapses of safety that may be harmful in the future, even though the hospitals will have to disclose such issues if they happen under their watch.
The charity Action Against Medical Accidents believes that this lesser duty of candour to private care providers is an unlawful move by the Health Secretary, after they had previously lauded the move for a duty of candour when it was first proposed, and they will look to challenge this new watered down ruling in the High Court unless Hunt backs down and ensures that it covers all care providers in equal measure.
It is likely that the Department of Health will back down rather than risk being challenged in the High Court over this matter. They have already indicated that the new proposed duty of candour is under review at this moment in time and that they will seek the views of other parties and if required make changes, as they say they want to make the NHS the safest healthcare system in the world.
The duty of candour was first recommended by Robert Francis QC back in 2013, in his report on the appalling level of care provided at Stafford Hospital which resulted in many people suffering and some losing their lives due to failures in duty of care.
Legal action against the government over an issue in the NHS so soon after the election would not be an ideal scenario for them, after promising to make great improvements in this sector over the next 5 years. But it is good that we have charities such as Action Against Medical Accidents who can put pressure on the government of the day to ensure they always have the patients safety as a first priority. It would certainly be an embarrassment for them if they were taken to court and defeated on such a sensitive subject that is close to the electorates heart.