Talk Health and Care

Empowered to apologise

Mistakes happen. They are even more likely to happen when we are overstretched. Yet somehow many health and social care professionals feel that their organisations do not authorise them to apologise in a normal human way when mistakes are made. This leads to problems escalating to formal complaints when there is no real need for this. It also leads to people and families who have experienced major system failings feeling abused by the systems that have already failed them, leading to long, acrimonious and expensive disputes.

Helatth and social care organisations should empower their staff to apologise immediately and meaningfully when mistakes are made and assure them that this will not lead to disciplinary action. This should be explicitly covered under ‘duty of candour’ training.

edited on Nov 2, 2018 by Isabel DHSC

Golly DHSC 8 months ago

Hi Sally

Thanks for sharing this. Do you have any examples of this working well?


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Sally Morgan 8 months ago

Was impressed with an interim chief exec who visited all the teams and said pretty much all of the above. They added ‘and if that all goes wrong then I told you to do it, so it’s my problem not yours’. A wonderful example of empowering staff to do the right thing, but sadly quite rare.

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Adam DHSC 5 months ago

Do you think this has changed with the introduction of the 'Duty of Candour'?


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Sally Morgan 4 months ago

I think that the changes with duty of candour have been fairly superficial - they mostly are around staff knowing the correct answer to the duty of candour question when CQC inspect. I don't know of any examples of real organisational change and good examples still rely on courageous individuals.

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