Public Consultation on the introduction of a statutory Duty of Candour in Northern Ireland

Consultation opened on 12 April 2021. Closing date 02 August 2021 at 17:00.


The Department of Health is consulting on policy proposals to enact a statutory Duty of Candour in Northern Ireland, developed by the Duty of Candour Workstream and its Being Open Subgroup as part of the Hyponatraemia Implementation Programme. The policy proposals set out an approach to implement the recommendations relating to a statutory Duty of Candour made by the Inquiry Into Hyponatraemia-Related Deaths. We would welcome your views on the draft Strategy during this consultation period. Responses can be submitted online via the link below, or via email/post.


Consultation description


In January 2018, Justice John O’Hara published his report on the Inquiry into Hyponatraemia-Related Deaths (IHRD).  His first recommendation was that a statutory Duty of Candour should be enacted in Northern Ireland and that it should apply to Healthcare Organisations and everyone working for them.  Justice O’Hara also recommended that criminal liability should attach to breach of this duty and to obstruction of another in the performance of this duty. He made further recommendations about the guidance, support and protection that should be provided for staff in order to create a more open culture.

In response, the DoH established an Implementation Programme to take forward the recommendations arising from the Inquiry and the Duty of Candour Workstream, and its Being Open Subgroup, have been responsible for developing the proposal options to address the recommendations on candour.

Through a co-production process, the Worksream and Subgroup have developed policy options for the statutory Duty of Candour and the policy framework for Being Open guidance, taking account of: research commissioned and evidence submitted; feedback from staff and service users; and input from other key stakeholders.

At this stage of the policy development we are specifically consulting on:

  1. Policy options for the statutory organisational Duty of Candour; and
  2. Policy options for the statutory individual Duty of Candour; and
  3. The policy framework for Being Open guidance.

Consultation events

The Department will host a number of virtual consultation events during the consultation period.  

  • Community & Voluntary Sector (hosted by NICVA) – Thursday 20 May 2021 – 10:00am to 11:00am  - register here.
  • HSC Trust Staff “Chat with the Chair” Information Sessions – 12 May to 21 May – register here .
  • NI Confederation for Health and Social Care Webinar – Statutory Duty of Candour and Being Open Framework – 3:30pm, Wednesday 26 May 2021 – Register here

In order to help people to respond to the consultation, Plain English and Easy Read versions of the policy proposals are included in the documents section above.  Please note that respondents do not have to address every question within the consultation, and can instead focus on the questions or issues that are of particular interest. 

Ways to respond

Stakeholders can respond to the consultation exercise using one of the following options:

  • Via the online survey hosted on Citizen Space (which can be accessed using the link below);
  • By completing the Consultation Questionnaire, which is available in the documents sections above.  The Questionnaire can be adapted and completed depending on which questions you wish to respond to, and submitted via email or in hard copy using the contact details listed below;
  • By downloading and completing the Consultation Response template included in the documents sections above, and submitting it using the contact details listed below; and
  • By sending an email, or writing to the address listed below, with a summary of your feedback to the consultation.

Ways to respond

Email -
Write to -
IHRD Implementation
Department of Health
Room D1.1
Castle Buildings
Stormont, Belfast

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