AvMA welcomes Hyponatraemia Inquiry recommendations for a duty of candour in Northern Ireland

Published: 1 Feb 2018

AvMA welcomes the long awaited report from the Inquiry into Hyponatraemia-related Deaths published in Belfast on 31 January 2018. In particular we welcome its support for the introduction of a statutory duty of candour in Northern Ireland healthcare.

We have been the leading organisation campaigning for a duty of candour across the United Kingdom and Chief Executive Peter Walsh gave evidence to the inquiry chairman John O’Hara QC about the rationale for a statutory duty, which may have prevented the alleged cover-ups associated with the tragic deaths, which the inquiry has looked into.

A statutory duty of candour has since been brought in in England in 2014. It is also being brought into force in Scotland in April 2018. Wales has signalled its intention to bring adopt a similar duty of candour there and Ministers in the Northern Ireland Assembly signalled a similar intention in the past. However, little progress has been made.

Peter Walsh said:

“Our heart goes out to all the families who lost loved ones and waited so long for this day. It seems to have taken for ever, but they should feel vindicated by the report.

“The recommendations from John O’Hara QC, if followed, could mean good comes from these tragedies. In particular, a statutory duty of candour in Northern Ireland is well overdue.

“Cover ups have no place in a fair and patient safety focused NHS. They not only add insult to injury to the patients/families affected, but are a barrier to learning for patient safety.

“This and the other recommendations, if implemented, could provide a much needed breakthrough for patient safety and justice in Northern Ireland. Almost everyone who contacts us for help following a medical accident wants to make sure the same thing does not happen to somebody else.”