Inquiry into Hyponatraemia-Related Deaths – Duty of Candour update

Date published: 14 February 2019

The Department of Health has today published specially commissioned research on the introduction of a duty of candour in health and social care.


It has also invited submissions of evidence to encourage a society-wide debate on the issue.

The introduction of a statutory duty of candour was one of the key recommendations from the Inquiry into Hyponatraemia-Related deaths.

A Duty of Candour workstream has been set up to encourage a culture of openness and examine the legislation that will be required.

Quintin Oliver, Chair of workstream, said: “In order to introduce the necessary culture change envisaged by Justice O’Hara, openness and transparency will be vital components of our work. In that spirit, I am committed to sharing updates throughout this process including copies of the research commissioned so far.

“The Duty of Candour workstream will develop detailed proposals to implement the Inquiry’s recommendations on candour. Before progressing to the next stage we are keen to engage with stakeholders and the general public and are now seeking written submissions to highlight any additional research or information that they feel is relevant.

“To date, the research has been aimed at improving our understanding of how candour operates in other jurisdictions, as well as the legal and human rights issues relevant to a statutory duty of candour. Some of the findings include: guidance and resources that have been provided for health and social care staff and for service users, their families and carers, on how candour and openness are to be applied at an operational level in health and social care settings; and how individuals and organisations can renew trust, particularly after trust has been broken, and highlights the importance of apologies, admissions, explanations, punishment, support and training.”

Chair of the Being Open subgroup, Peter McBride, added: “Delivering an open and transparent health service is of vital importance to everyone. I would therefore encourage anyone with an interest in this work to submit any further evidence they feel would benefit the programme.

“We need contributions from people and organisations across Northern Ireland to ensure we take account of a wide range of experience and expertise.”

The group Chairs are inviting all interested stakeholders to submit any additional research or information by 31 March 2019 by emailing

As a follow up to this work, the Duty of Candour Workstream is also planning to facilitate a number of workshops before the summer. Further details will be announced in due course but you can register an interest now by emailing to the same address:

Notes to editors: 

1. The research is available to download.

2. Further information on the IHRD Implementation Programme can be accessed on the Department's website.

3. Submissions of evidence are welcome in respect of recommendations 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 as set on the website.

4. All submissions received will be published on the Department’s website at the conclusion of the call for evidence on 31 March 2019.

5. The Duty of Candour workstream will be holding a series of workshops in June 2019 as part of its programme of engagement. The workshops will focus not only on the statutory provisions but also on the wider issues of promoting and support a culture of openness within the health and social care sector.

6. You can submit evidence, and also register your interest in the upcoming workshops, by emailing:, or by writing to:

IHRD Implementation Programme
Department of Health
Castle Buildings
Stormont Estate

7. The IHRD Implementation Programme is comprised of 9 workstreams and 200 people from different backgrounds working through the recommendations arising from the Inquiry into Hyponatraemia-Related Deaths (IHRD).

8. The Duty of Candour workstream is responsible for developing the implementation plan for eight actions focusing on the legislation required for a legal duty of candour.

9. The Being Open subgroup is concentrating on the culture of the health and social care service. It is initially focused on the guidance and support needed for organisations and staff to be able to change the culture in advance of a statutory duty of candour coming into place, and to fulfil their legal duties once a statutory duty is in place.

10. The research papers published reflect the position at the time that they were prepared (as indicated on the cover of the papers) and may therefore have been superseded by subsequent policy developments.

11. For media enquiries please contact the DoH Press Office team on 028 9052 0579or email For out of hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110 and your call will be returned.

12. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt  

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