A government-commissioned review has recommended that NHS organisations be required to inform patients about all but the most minor patient safety incidents under a new ‘duty of candour’.

The Salford Royal Foundation Trust chief executive, Sir David Dalton, and the Royal College of Surgeons of England president, Norman Williams, recommended that all staff be trained in how to disclose, and apologise for, incidents resulting in death, severe or moderate harm to patients and their families.

The report recommended that NHS staff should receive training and support for “admitting, reporting and learning from mistakes,” signifying a shift to a more open, transparent and accountable NHS culture.

The government has already announced plans to introduce a statutory duty of candour for cases of death or serious harm following last year’s Francis report on the serious failings at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. However, if the recommendations of this latest report are taken forward, then cases of moderate harm would also be included. This extends the possible number of incidents covered by the duty from 11,000 to 96,000.

Linda Millband, National Practice Lead for clinical negligence at Thompsons Solicitors, said, “We know from our work on behalf of more than 400 former patients of rogue breast surgeon, Mr Ian Paterson, how important it is that patients and their families receive answers when errors are made.

“Any mistake during treatment can have a significant impact on the life of the patient involved, and they have the right to understand what has happened to them and why.

“If mistakes do happen it is vital that patients are informed and that lessons are learnt to reduce and avoid future incidents.”