The combination of the above duties means that when things go wrong, practitioners provide an account of the facts that are known at the time, face to face if possible, as soon as possible after the mistake has been discovered. The practitioner should also advise on what further enquiries might need to be made and should make an apology.
The NMC/GMC guidance offers quite specific advice on how to make an apology that is meaningful, and points out that an apology does not mean that the practitioner is accepting legal liability for what has happened, nor that that practitioner is accepting any personal responsibility for the mistakes of others or for systemic failings.
The notification must be followed up in writing, containing the same information as the face to face interview.
Helpfully, the guidance does reflect upon who should take responsibility for these actions, as follows:
We recognise that care is normally provided by multidisciplinary teams, and we don’t expect every team member to take responsibility for reporting adverse incidents and speaking to patients if things go wrong. However, we do expect you to make sure that someone in the team has taken on responsibility for each of these tasks, and we expect you to support them as needed.
At the RCN we have had instances of nurses contacting us having been asked to prepare ‘the candour letter,’ and we have advised them to seek further support from their employer as it is the provider of the service that must take more responsibility.
If you are worried about what to do or find your employer is not being supportive, read the guidance above and contact us for further advice as needed.