Time for a statutory duty of candour
Sir, – The statement from Dr Gabriel Scally that there was “no compelling requirement on clinicians to disclose; it’s left up to their personal and professional judgment” will come as no surprise to anyone who has suffered medical negligence in Ireland.
The Taoiseach, while he was minister for health, having initially promised to implement a mandatory disclosure policy, performed a U-turn on this after his chief medical officer was lobbied by powerful interest groups within the health service.
Dr Scally in his report states: “The HSE’s open disclosure policy and HSE/SCA guidelines should be revised as a matter of urgency. The revised policies must reflect the primacy of the right of patients to have full knowledge about their healthcare as and when they so wish and, in particular, their right to be informed about any failings in that care process, however and whenever they may arise”.
In regard to the reaction from politicians to the Scally report it should be pointed out that the disastrous decision to make open disclosure voluntary was passed in the Dáil. Fine Gael supported a voluntary disclosure policy, and Fianna Fáil abstained to effectively allow it to pass.
The current Minister for Health now needs to do what the Taoiseach should have done and implement a statutory duty of candour. All parties would be better served supporting the Minister in this rather then attempting to score political points on this issue. – Yours, etc,