Being Open - Information for Patients

The Spencer Private Hospitals expects its staff to be open with people if mistakes are made. If a mistake seriously harms you, a family member or someone you care for, you will be able to expect one of the doctors or nurses treating you to apologise and explain clearly what went wrong.

They should also tell you what they will do to stop the problem happening again.

A chance to talk
Being open will mean that someone involved in your treatment should ask to arrange a meeting with you to talk about what went wrong. You can choose who comes to this meeting.
It will usually be the doctor or nurse treating you, but you can choose someone else if you would prefer. You may want to bring a friend or relative along. You can also choose where you want the meeting to be. You may prefer to talk away from the hospital.

At the meeting, someone from the team treating you should:

  • Say sorry for what happened;
  • Explain exactly what went wrong and, where possible, why things went wrong;
  • Ask you what you think went wrong and why;
  • Tell you what they’ll do to stop the problem happening again;
  • Let you ask any questions.

It can sometimes take time  to investigate a problem. It might be that at the first meeting no one can tell you exactly what went wrong. However, someone will keep you up to date with how the investigation is going.

After the meeting you will get a letter of apology. This letter will explain how and, if possible, why things went wrong with your treatment. If this information isn’t available, you will be told how your case will be investigated and when you can expect more details. The letter may also say what the hospital will do to stop the problem happening again. You should also be offered support from a counsellor.

Improving the Service
The Hospital can learn from people who have been harmed whilst in their care. Sharing your experience may help stop the same mistake happening to someone else. You may feel anxious about talking through your experience with the people who have been treating you, especially if you need further treatment, but people who have been harmed by treatment that has gone wrong often say that they cope much better once they get an apology and understand what went wrong.

More information
If you would like to know more about how our hospital deals with mistakes, please ask one of the people treating you.

Further help and advice

For more information on how the government handles the issue of patient safety contact the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) by visiting the NHS Improvements website.

Organisations that can help if you or someone you know has been involved in a case where someone has been harmed:

Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA)
AvMA is an independent charity, which promotes better patient safety and justice for people who have been affected by a medical incident. You can call their helpline on 0845 123 2352 or visit

Care Quality Commission
If your issue is not resolved locally you can contact the Care Quality Commission on 03000 616161 or visit

Making your stay with us safe

This animation has been made to help patients stay safe while they are in hospital. It has been developed by Haelo, an innovation and improvement centre in Salford, in partnership with Guy’s and St Thomas, and is based on the airline-style safety card developed by Guy’s and St Thomas.

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