Today (Wednesday 23 September) the Trust pleaded guilty to failure to comply with the Duty of Candour and was fined £1,600, a victim surcharge of £120 and ordered to pay legal costs of more than £10,000.
The prosecution was brought by the Care Quality Commission and was the first of its kind. In the past trusts have been fined for failing to meet Regulation 20 of the Health and Social Care Act. This regulation, called Duty of Candour, sets out some specific requirements that healthcare providers must follow when things go wrong with care and treatment, including informing people about the incident, providing reasonable support, providing truthful information and an apology.
The court heard that the Trust had an appropriate policy in place to deal with serious untoward incidents, it was the interpretation of this policy that was wrong. This patient’s death was not categorised and dealt with as a Serious Incident Requiring Investigation (SIRI), as her death was as a result of a known complication of the procedure. This was a mistake and meant we did not follow the process for Duty of Candour as we should have. We have apologised to our patient’s family for this.
The intention was always to explain what had happened and answer any questions: our staff expressed apologies and offered to meet in December 2017. But we did not do this in the right way and this caused unnecessary anguish and hurt, for which we are truly sorry.
Afterwards our Chief Nurse and Director of Integrated Professions, Lenny Byrne said: “As outlined within the court proceedings, we would like to begin by wholeheartedly apologising to our patient’s family for the distress and hurt caused at an already difficult time.
“We pleaded guilty to failure to comply with the Duty of Candour and fully accept the court’s decision. As the court heard, we have made significant changes in our processes which ensure that in future, in the event a patient dies from a complication following a procedure, this will be investigated as a SIRI, whether or not it is a known complication."