Conference: Honesty, candour and transparency – clinical implications

Friday 11 March 2016, Woburn House Conference Centre, Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9HQ

10th Institute of Medical Ethics Education Conference

The Mid-Staffordshire scandal and the Montgomery case challenge clinicians to be candid in their dealings with patients. This is a significant development in the culture of medicine and those who teach medical ethics need to assess its implications for their own practice.

The aim of the conference is to explore the clinical implications of the professional duty of candour, which applies when things go wrong with a patient’s care, and the GMC’s more general requirement to be honest and open with patients or carers when discussing care, treatment and prognosis.

While honesty, in general, is in the best interests of patients, doctors may find these duties challenging to apply in practice. They may be concerned about the impact on their careers of complying with the duty of candour and raising concerns about patient safety. Doctors (and nurses) must at all times be honest with their patients but this can be manifested in a variety of ways that fit the situation of each patient without interfering with the clinician’s duty of care. How, therefore, do we prepare medical students effectively for the challenges which they will face, not only in the future but also now, as students, who may witness poor practice or errors that affect patient safety?

Speakers will explore legal and ethical aspects of the duties of candour and honesty, and the complexities encountered in actual clinical practice, drawing from experience in different specialties. There will be the opportunity to discuss personal ideas and experience with a focus on guiding the development and delivery of teaching on these issues. The conference will be of interest to anyone involved in teaching medical students, whether academics or clinicians. Medical students themselves are welcome.



9.45-10.00 Welcome and introduction to the conference

10.00-10.30 Daniel Sokol (Barrister and medical ethicist) – Duty of Candour: Law and Professional Guidance

10.30-11.00 Susan Bewley (Professor of Complex Obstetrics, KCL) – Honesty from the perspective of Obstetrics

11.00-11.30 David Molyneux (GP) – Honesty from the perspective of General Practice

11.30-12.00 COFFEE

12.00-12.30 Dominic Bell (Consultant, Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust) – Honesty from the perspective of Intensive Care

12.30-13.00 Panel question and answers with the featured speakers

13.00-14.00 LUNCH

14.00-15.30 Open Forum session*

15.30-16.00 COFFEE

16.00-17.00 Lewis Headley Lecture – Dr Suzanne Shale

17.00-17.15 Concluding remarks


*The Open Forum session uses an imaginative technique to explore the issues raised by the conference theme, drawing on Open Space Technology discussion methods. A number of different discussion groups will form to explore the questions brought by participants relating to honesty, candour and transparency. Group participants will not be assigned in advance to a discussion group. Rather participants identify a discussion group at the start of the session that they wish to join. Participants stay with a discussion for as long as this is constructive for them and then move to a different group to explore another issue. So participants move freely around the Open Forum to explore as many or as few issues as they wish.

Questions may be prepared in advance, raised by what the morning speakers say, or generated by listening to the ideas of other participants: the important thing is that they are YOUR questions and that you are committed to discussing them. This draws on the creativity of all involved, is enjoyable, interactive and productive. You may want to adapt and adopt the Open Forum to use it in your own teaching.

Please go here for further information and to book a place.


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