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Contractual duty of openness statement

05 December 2012

Responding to the Department of Health announcement today that the NHS Commissioning Board will be required to insert a contractual duty of openness in all commissioning contracts, Miss Clare Marx, Royal College of Surgeons council lead for patient safety said:

‘As a professional body we strongly support openness and transparency in the NHS. All doctors have a professional and moral duty to be open and honest with their patients at all times.

Although we welcome the Government’s intentions to improve openness, a contractual requirement risks becoming another tick-box exercise for the NHS which fails to address the underlying cultural barriers. It remains to be seen how this requirement is interpreted, applied and enforced – particularly when many different parts of the NHS may be responsible for a problem.

We look forward to working with the NHS Commissioning Board on the detail of this proposal.

The Government, the NHS, and the medical professions must continue their work to improve openness by enabling organisations to foster supportive and open working environments rather than simply relying on bureaucratic measures.’

Notes to Editor:
1.    The Royal College of Surgeons of England is committed to enabling surgeons to achieve and maintain the highest standards of surgical practice and patient care. Registered charity number: 212808. For more information please visit
For more information, please contact the RCS press office on:
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