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Being open and honest when things go wrong

Understanding the duty of candour

The importance of being candid is reflected in standard 8 of the HCPC’s standards of conduct, performance and ethics, which states:

8.1. You must be open and honest when something has gone wrong with the care, treatment or other services that you provide by:

- informing service users or, where appropriate, their carers, that something has gone wrong;
- apologising;
- taking action to put matters right if possible; and
- making sure that service users or, where appropriate, their carers, receive a full and prompt explanation of what has happened and any likely side effects.

Standards 7 and 8 also require you to deal with concerns and complaints appropriately and professionally. This involves personally reporting and escalating any safety concerns that they might have, as well as empowering and encouraging others to do the same.

Read the standards of conduct, performance and ethics

Apologies are an important aspect of the duty of candour. Some registrants can worry that this may be seen as an admission of guilt and therefore negatively impact their career, which is not the case. Apologising will always be the right thing to do and our Sanctions policy reiterates that apologies will not be seen as an admission of liability. Read our sanctions policy in full.

In addition to this professional duty, organisations also have a duty to support their staff to be open and honest with service users when things have gone wrong and report adverse incidents. This is known as the organisational duty of candour, which has been implemented in different ways across the four UK countries and where some have made this a statutory duty. Remember that in addition to your HCPC standards, your employer may have policies relating to candour and openness that we would expect you to follow.

In this video we explore what the professional duty of candour is, and how it differs from the organisational duty in more detail. We also look at the many benefits that candour can have for you, service users and the wider health and care service.


Page updated on: 26/01/2022