Many people will have seen news stories about today's publication of an independent report into the events surrounding the death of Elizabeth Dixon, and the subsequent investigation and treatment of her family.

The independent report author finds very starkly that the care that Elizabeth received was substandard, finding "from before she was born until the last night of her life, she was let down by every organisation that should have cared for her, and at every stage of her short life there were failures to avert its sad course." This is obviously incredibly sad in itself and it is hard to imagine the additional grief this must cause Elizabeth's family.

However, this article, makes clear to me again the importance of candour. The law has changed since these events, since 2014 there has been a statutory duty on healthcare professionals, to notify patients or their families if things go wrong in relation to their care, if it causes or is likely to cause significant harm. If there is any remaining doubt about the importance of candour, this case is a poignant example of just why it is so important.

Families, already bereaved, do not deserve to be treated with anything less than honesty. In my own experience, clients have instructed me to pursue claims, solely because of the way their concerns have been handled. Proper handling at the outset would in my view avoid a large amount of later issues and in some cases litigation. It is right to say that this is an issue not confined to healthcare settings and that concerns are often dealt with and managed properly.

In my view the litigation costs arising from circumstances such as these would be significantly reduced by proper investigation and honest discussions with those raising concerns. 

More importantly, the human cost of not acknowledging mistakes have been made must be properly understood and avoided. 

The importance of candour, whilst clearly difficult, cannot be underestimated in my view.