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Northern Ireland: Medics who withhold information 'should face court'

Healthcare staff who deliberately withhold information should face criminal prosecution in cases involving patient safety and deaths, according to Northern Ireland's human rights commissioner.

In her first public interview on duty of candour, Alyson Kilpatrick told BBC News NI there was an obligation on doctors to be fully truthful in order to protect lives.

A duty of candour is an onus on staff to be open and transparent with patients and families when mistakes are made in a patient's care.

However, the British Medical Association (BMA) does not agree that criminal sanctions should be linked with a duty of candour, and has said it would go against creating a culture of openness and transparency.

Alan Roberts, whose daughter's death was examined by the Northern Ireland hyponatraemia inquiry which found there had been a "cover-up" into how she died, said doctors must be legally bound to tell the truth.

Claire Roberts was one of five children whose deaths at hospitals in Northern Ireland were examined by the 14-year-long inquiry. It was heavily critical of a health service it deemed to be "self-regulating and unmonitored".

Mr Roberts said "the public will be shocked to find there is no legal binding duty on a doctor to tell a patient when there have been failures or when they've been at fault".

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Source: BBC News, 25 June 2024


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