Bid to promote 'openness' in NHS
Government proposals to make NHS providers contractually required to admit their mistakes have been opened to consultation.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is planning to introduce a "duty of candour" that will require hospitals to be more transparent and open with patients when something goes wrong with their care.
The Department of Health is now asking stakeholders, that include NHS ambulance and mental health providers, their views on the best way of enforcing the duty.
It hopes the move will give patients and local clinicians more power to hold the NHS to account.
Mr Lansley said: "We must develop a culture of openness in the NHS. 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.
"That's why we are introducing a requirement on providers to be transparent in admitting mistakes.
"We need to find the most effective way to promote openness and hold those organisations who are not open to account.
"A more transparent NHS is a safer NHS where patients can be confident of receiving high-quality care."
More than a million patient safety incidents are reported every year, according to the Government. Under the plans providers will have to make an annual "declaration of openness".
The consultation will ask questions on key issues such as what the duty should require the NHS to do and what penalties should be enforced for breaching it.