» Accreditation Has Vital Role in Delivering Quality Healthcare

21 December, 2009

Accreditation has a key role to play in driving standards in healthcare, concluded the 2009 Think Tank hosted by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service. The event, which was the first to concentrate on a single area of accreditation, follows growing UKAS involvement in the healthcare sector.

Four keynote speakers presented views on quality and safety in healthcare provision from discrete standpoints across the healthcare spectrum. Jamie Rentoul, Director of Regulation and Strategy at the Care Quality Commission (CQC) outlined priorities for quality and safety in healthcare provision from a regulator’s point of view. He explained key priorities and highlighted the need for early identification to rectify substandard care and for joined-up care provision. Sir Duncan Nichol, UKAS non-executive director and former Chief Executive of the NHS Management Executive, acknowledged everyone was in common pursuit of excellence but invited delegates to consider “what ‘good’ looks like.” He stressed the importance of identifying a mid-point along a range from ‘minimum safe levels’ to ‘outright excellence’, and noted the differences between pass/fail systems and benchmarking.

Dr Graham Hoadley, Consultant Radiologist and National Clinical Lead for Radiology service improvement for the NHS, presented a practising clinician’s view of the quality agenda, and warned against an ‘error culture’ that assumed ‘accidents happen.’ He pointed to good data provision as the bedrock of patient safety and described how accreditation was helping to drive continuous improvement in radiology through ISAS, the new Imaging Services Accreditation Scheme, recently launched by UKAS. He emphasised that clinical evidence is a given but that quality must start with safety. Dr Anna Dixon, Director of Policy for The King’s Fund, expressed concern about inaccurate uses of terminology where accreditation is concerned, and suggested the purpose of regulation should always be considered before designing policy. She also discussed differences between voluntary benchmark systems and mandatory licensing systems and the different outcomes of both. Finally she stressed a need for a mix of systems but warned of the risk of increasing the regulatory burden.

Summing up the debate Lord Lindsay, UKAS Chairman, said “Everyone is in agreement that we need to deliver the highest possible levels of patient care, and it is encouraging that people from every side of the debate agree that there is a vital role that accreditation can play in enabling this. UKAS looks forward to playing a full part in ensuring the provision of quality healthcare provision into the future.”