The Care Quality Commission has fined Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust £16,250 for failing to comply with the Duty of Candour, in relation to incidents involving medication errors, delays in diagnosis and missed opportunities to investigate a patient’s deteriorating condition.

CQC issued thirteen fixed penalty notices of £1,250 to the Trust. In each case, CQC considered the Trust had failed to notify the patient or their family of the facts available as soon as reasonably possible.

Earlier this year CQC used their enforcement powers against a health and social care provider for the first time for failure to comply with the Duty of Candour under Regulation 20 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014. The CQC fined Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust by way of a fixed penalty notice for failing to apologise within a reasonable time period to a family of a baby boy who died. The fine totalled £1,250.

This recent case is a reminder that the CQC will not stop at issuing fixed penalty notices for failure to comply with the duty of candour, totalling a potentially large sum of money for the provider.

The statutory duty of candour applies to all care providers registered with the Care Quality Commission and has applied to NHS providers since October 2014. Providers of health and social care should remind themselves of their requirement under section 20:

  • To act in an open and transparent way in relation to care and treatment provided to service users
  • As soon as reasonably practicable after becoming aware of a notifiable safety incident, providers must notify the service user and/or their representative that the incident has occurred
  • The notification should be given in person (unless this is not possible – in this instance providers should keep written records of attempts to contact the relevant person), provide an account of all the facts that are known as at the date the account is given, advise what further enquiries are believed to be appropriate and include an apology
  • Follow up any notification in writing and keep a secure written record of the notification and incident. Written notifications should include the above referenced information along with details of any enquiries to be undertaken and the results of any further enquiries into the incident
  • Provide reasonable support to the relevant person in relation to the incident