The professional codes for nurses and doctors are fit for purpose - but further work should be done to provide incentives to ensure all staff are more open, the NHS medical director has reported.

Sir Bruce Keogh was asked to review the codes by Jeremy Hunt after the inquiry into maternity services at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust.

Bruce Keogh

Sir Bruce Keogh was asked by Jeremy Hunt to review the professional codes for nurses and doctors

In a letter to the health secretary, published this morning, Sir Bruce said: “I believe the codes, as far as they go, are fit for purpose; and the insertion of the professional duty of candour is a welcome sign that the professional bodies recognise the importance of the issues you have raised.

“However, there is more that could be done. Not least a message that true professionalism includes a presumption towards open, frank and considered behaviour. I would like to work with the professional regulators to see what further incentives we could agree to ensure all NHS staff – whether clinical or managerial – are more open.”

In a speech outlining his 25 year vision for the health service this morning, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “At its heart this is about rediscovering true professionalism in a clinical context.”

In his letter Sir Bruce said further work would be undertaken with the Professional Standards Authority in September and “would like to agree what steps all nine professional regulators can take, working together, to develop a common set of values to encourage these behaviours and promote quality improvement across the NHS.”

A set of proposals will be submitted in October that aim to focus on “how we could promote a more balanced approach to harness the power of values, behaviours and professionalism as drivers for improvement across the NHS, rather than a focus on professional regulation and failure”, he said.