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“No enforced apology over disputed NHS care”

The GMC has launched a consultation on doctors’ professional duty to be open and honest about mistakes in the NHS.

“The BMA strongly believes that patients should always be treated with the utmost respect and in a culture of openness and transparency. We need NHS leaders to commit to making this a practical reality and look forward to Sir Robert Francis’ report on his review of ‘Freedom to Speak up’.

“When things go wrong the vast majority of doctors already apologise at the earliest opportunity as this is a key professional duty. The GMC proposals to support that duty may well be helpful in this process, however any suggestion of an enforced apology where there is a dispute over where fault lies would be inappropriate.

“Research shows that most poor outcomes are due to system rather than individual failures.

“Apologies in these circumstances should be couched in those terms if we are to have a process that is truthful and appropriate.”

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