Since Confed 2013 a lot of water has passed under the bridge. It seems that not a month has gone by without a seminal publication flowing from the Francis Report.
Quite a lot for readers (be you commissioner, provider or regulator) to have kept pace with. So what are the key areas you need to be appraised of? Here are our top 3.
1. Duty of Candour
The duty of candour will be part of the new set of registration requirements for all healthcare organisations regulated by CQC. It is proposed that the duty will apply when there is a notifiable safety incident that has led to the death of a patient or to them suffering “severe” or “moderate harm”. This would include providing information and support to the patient or another, issuing an apology and agreeing what further inquiries are needed. Non compliance would be a criminal offence. It will not apply to individuals. The changes will take effect in October 2014 in the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Duty of Candour) Regulations 2014. Detailed guidance is also expected.
2. Wilful or Reckless Neglect or Mistreatment
This new offence is designed to cover the gap identified in Professor Berwick’s review in respect of adults with capacity. The proposal is that the offence can be committed by both organisations and individuals. It is not intended to cover genuine error or accident. It is proposed that it will cover both the public and private sector. The recent consultation posed numerous questions around the scope of the offence, the elements of the offence, how it would apply to organisations and penalties.
3. False or Misleading Information
This has given us yet another health acronym – FOMI! Another new criminal offence has been created by the Care Act 2014. It is an offence where a care provider supplies, publishes or otherwise makes available information which is required under an enactment or other legal obligation and the information is false or misleading in a material respect. It is a strict liability offence which means that it does not need to be proved that a provider knew it had supplied false or misleading information. The offence will apply to the whole organisation but it could also apply to senior staff. Regulations are awaited but we understand they will initially limit the offence to providers of NHS secondary care. The Regulations will set out the type of information covered by the offence. Providers will need to assure themselves of the accuracy of the information your publish and ensure that you have an audit trail. There will be a defence if you can prove that you took all reasonable steps and exercised all due diligence to prevent the provision of false or misleading information.
So three new criminal offences - not that we wish to worry you, of course!