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Hospitals 'have to admit mistakes'

Hospitals will have a new "duty of candour" to tell patients when they have made mistakes with their care.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has set out how providers of NHS services will have it written into their contracts to increase transparency and admit mistakes.

Such a duty of candour was part of the coalition agreement requiring hospitals to be open with patients and families when things go wrong.

In the full response to the NHS Future Forum report on reform, the Government also fleshed out how it will alter the Health and Social Care Bill, including watering down requirements on competition.

On duty of candour, the document says: "We heard through the listening exercise the suggestion that we could strengthen transparency of organisations and increase patient confidence by introducing a 'duty of candour': a new contractual requirement on providers to be open and transparent in admitting mistakes.

"We agree. This will be enacted through contractual mechanisms and therefore does not require amendments to the Bill. We will set out more details about this shortly."

The pledge comes as new research suggests that basic failures in co-ordinating care leads to errors in medication and other forms of treatment. The study, published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, included 1,434 British patients with an average age of 53.

Overall, 9% reported medication or medical errors, with 23% saying poorly co-ordinated care was involved - increasing the likelihood of error by 160%.

Mr Lansley said the response to the future forum report built on changes already agreed to the Health and Social Care Bill.

The Government has already said doctors and nurses will be involved in planning and buying care while a 2013 deadline for consortia to take on budgets has been scrapped and the NHS regulator Monitor now has a duty to promote the interest of patients when it comes to competition, rather than just promoting competition for the sake of it.

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