Nurses' and doctors' professional codes are fit for purpose, confirms review

NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh tells the health secretary the codes for nurses and doctors are effective

The professional codes of practice for nurses and doctors have been assessed as fit for purpose, and the inclusion of a duty of candour will help create open cultures, according to a national review.

In March this year, health secretary Jeremy Hunt asked NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh to review the professional codes of nurses and doctors. The purpose of the review is to prevent people from covering mistakes rather than reporting and learning from them.

The review was commissioned in response to a report into the deaths of mothers and babies at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust. The report made 44 recommendations to ensure future care failings are properly recognised and acted on.

Sir Bruce has now confirmed in a letter to Mr Hunt that the codes are effective. He said it is ‘a welcome sign’ the professional duty of candour has been introduced in the codes because it shows the professional bodies recognise the importance of transparency.

But he adds: ‘There is more that could be done. Not least a message that true professionalism includes a presumption towards open, frank and considered behaviour. I would like to work with professional regulators to see what further incentives we could agree to ensure all NHS staff – whether clinical or managerial – are more open.’

He said as a first step he will host a meeting of professional regulators with Professional Standards Authority chief executive Harry Cayton on September 14.

‘I hope to get the view from regulators about how quality and openness can be championed and true professionalism encouraged across all staff in the NHS,’ he said.

The final conclusions of Sir Bruce's review are expected to be published by the end of October.

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