Duty of Candour & Being Open - Policy Proposals for Consultation

Closes 2 Aug 2021

Opened 12 Apr 2021


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.  

Why we are consulting

In response, the Department of Health (DoH) established an Implementation Programme to take forward the recommendations arising from the Inquiry. The Duty of Candour Workstream, and its Being Open Subgroup, have been responsible for developing proposals 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.  

The DoH is now seeking your views on the following proposals developed by the Workstream and Subgroup:

  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.

The consultation will run from 12 April 2021 to 2 August 2021.  

Ways To Respond

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 below.  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. 

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 below.  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 below, 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.

Email -


Write to -

IHRD Implementation

Department of Health

Room D1.1, Castle Buildings

Stormont Estate, Belfast


Give us your views


  • HSC Trust Staff “Chat with the Chair” Information Sessions

    From 12 May 2021 at 12:00 to 21 May 2021 at 20:00

    Information sessions for HSC Trust Staff about the Duty of Candour and Being Open consultation.

    For further information, please visit - https://consultations.nidirect.gov.uk/hsc-public-health-agency/a50ec9a1/

  • Duty of Candour & Being Open DoH Public Consultation - NICVA Information Event

    From 20 May 2021 at 10:00 to 20 May 2021 at 11:00

    On the 20th May NICVA will be hosting an engagement event with the Department of Health (DoH) in relation to the departments current public consultation on policy proposals to implement a Duty of Candour for Health and Social Care (HSC).

    The aim of this engagement event is to further inform VCS organisations about these policy proposals and how they can best respond to the public consultation.

    For further information and registration details please use the following link -


  • NI Confederation for Health and Social Care Webinar

    From 26 May 2021 at 15:30 to 26 May 2021 at 17:00

    In this webinar, workstream members will provide an overview of the various policy proposals; what they mean for patients, staff, and organisations; share information on how organisations can respond to the consultation and answer any questions members may have.

    For further information, please visit -


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