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Greater protection for patients 10/06/2015 New measures to improve patient safety and rights are included in a new Health Bill, published in the Scottish Parliament last week.

Greater protection for patients

New measures to improve patient safety and rights are included in a new Health Bill, published in the Scottish Parliament last week.

The Bill includes measures to create a statutory Duty of Candour, which would apply to all health and social care organisations. This would place a duty on organisations to be open when a patient has suffered unintended harm during a period of treatment or care. 

The Bill also provides for support for all involved, and training for any staff involved in responding to an incident.

A separate part of the Bill seeks to create new criminal offences of wilful neglect or ill treatment. These would apply to those rare cases where there has been intentional neglect or ill-treatment in the health or social care system. These offences are intended to deal with deliberate mistreatment and not instances of genuine error or accident.

“Our duty of candour proposals will put transparency at the heart of care, drive up standards, and help us to learn lessons from previous mistakes. It will ensure that health and social care organisations are fully open whenever a patient has suffered from unintended harm,” said Maureen Watt, Minister for Public Health. “By creating a new criminal offence for wilful neglect, we will ensure that courts have the power to deal with the worst cases of neglect and ill-treatment. These are extremely rare cases, but if this happens, we must give the courts the power to act.”

Other measures contained in the Bill include steps to regulate electronic cigarettes and stop smoking outside NHS hospital buildings. 

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