The professional duty of candour

About this guidance

  1. This document gives guidance on how to meet the GOC’s standard on the professional duty of candour. It does not create new requirements or give legal advice.
  2. The word ‘must’ indicates a mandatory requirement, for example, registrants must comply with the law and must meet the GOC’s standards.
  3. You should use your professional judgement to apply this guidance to your own practice and the variety of settings in which you might work.
  4. If you are not sure about how to proceed in a specific situation, you should ask for advice from appropriate professional colleagues, your employer, your professional indemnity insurance provider, your professional or representative body, or obtain independent legal advice.
  5. Student optometrists and student dispensing opticians should also seek advice from their tutor, supervisor or training provider.
  6. Support may also be available from employers who have policies and procedures in place to support a culture of openness and transparency. These should outline how the employer manages breaches of the professional duty of candour, including the investigation of any instances where a member of staff may have obstructed another in exercising their duty of candour.
  7. Throughout the guidance we talk about your responsibilities towards patients or people in your care. We recognise that care is often provided by a number of different optical professionals or in conjunction with other types of healthcare professionals and that you may be one of several healthcare professionals involved in a patient’s care.
  8. While every healthcare professional will have a professional duty of candour, we would not expect every professional involved in the care pathway to talk to the patient about the same incident. But you must make sure that an appropriate person — usually the lead or accountable clinician — takes responsibility for speaking to the patient or (in certain situations) those close to them if something goes wrong.