According to an article in The Observer (Sunday 6 December 2009) ministers have decided to impose a legally binding duty of openness on the NHS in England in a bid to improve patient safety.
From April 2010, all trusts in England – hospitals, primary care trusts, mental health services and ambulance services – will be under the new obligation. They will have to report to the NPSA "without delay" all incidents in which a patient has suffered an injury that has impaired their sensory, motor or intellectual functions; changed the structure of their body; involved prolonged pain or psychological harm; reduced their life expectancy; or caused their death. Penalties for failure to comply will range from warning notices and instant £4,000 fines to the risk of prosecution.
The duty will also extend from next October to 24,000 providers of adult social care and 2,000 private healthcare operators, then to dental practices in April 2011 and doctor’s surgeries in April 2012. In all some 44,000 healthcare providers will be covered by 2012.
For further information, read The Observer article here.