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Duty of candour requirements must not be “box-ticking” exercise, warns NPA

Practice Government plans to impose duty of candour requirements on the NHS must not become a "box-ticking" exercise for community pharmacy, the NPA has warned.

Government plans to impose duty of candour requirements on the NHS must not become a "box-ticking" exercise for community pharmacy, the NPA has warned.

The government launched a consultation on including  requirements to be open with patients in NHS contracts on October 10. The proposals could see providers making annual declarations to prove they have been "open and honest" when dealing with mistakes in patient care.

But it is not yet clear how this could be integrated into primary care contracts, the Department of Health (DH) said.

The NPA argued that the requirements must be right for the pharmacy environment.

"What we mustn't end up with is a box-ticking process designed for hospital trusts that doesn't quite translate for community services," said NPA policy manager Margaret Peycke. "As it currently stands, pharmacists have a duty of care to patients, so when something goes wrong, they should deal with this is an open and professional way."

The DH stressed that it would "bear in mind" the difference between primary care and secondary care contracts when looking at the requirements.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said the proposals could improve patient care.

"We must develop a culture of openness in the NHS," he argued. "This is a key part of how a modern NHS should be – open and accountable to the public and patients to drive improvements in care."

He added: "We need to find the most effective way to promote openness and hold those organisations that are not open to account."

The consultation will run until January 2, 2012.

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