NHS bosses could be jailed for up to two years if found to be lying about poor care.

The recently announced plans are part of a campaign against the culture of cover-up in the NHS, which began in the wake of the Stafford Hospital scandal.

Hospitals could also be fined £10,000 if they lose a clinical negligence claim and cannot prove that errors have been admitted and an apology made.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the plans “send a strong message that covering up mistakes will not be tolerated.”

Peter Walsh, chief executive of charity Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA), echoed this sentiment, saying: “It sends a clear message that this is socially important and we don’t want to see this sort of behaviour.”

However, the move does have critics, amongst them Mark Porter, chairman of the British Medical Association’s governing council. He said doctors may not want to report concerns for fear of reproach:

“We need a culture of openness within the NHS, not where speaking up can leave doctors feeling harassed or facing punitive action”, he said.

Duty of candour

Hospitals are now supposed to tell a patient if a mistake has been made regarding their care, even no harm has been caused. An apology should also be made, and this must be put into writing if the patient requests.

This policy is called a professional duty of candour and was introduced to England and Wales in November 2014.

Has the health service lied to you?

If you believe you were subject to negligent medical care but the clinician or hospital has failed to admit a breach, please get in touch with us today. We will be able to say whether or not you have been the innocent victim of medical negligence.

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