National Quality Board set out how to improve quality in the new health system

Published on Thursday, 16 August 2012 09:42
Posted by Scott Buckler

The National Quality Board (NQB) has today published a report setting out how the new health system will work together to maintain and improve quality and safety, ensuring patients receive the best care possible

The NQB brings leaders from across the health system together with lay and patient representatives.  Its aim is to champion quality and ensure alignment for improving quality throughout the health service.

The focus of the NQB report - "Quality in the new health system - maintaining and improving quality from April 2013" - is how the new health system will work together to identify, respond to and prevent serious failures in quality.

The report describes how improving quality is the responsibility of everyone working in the health service, both individually and collectively.  Doctors, nurses and other health professionals, their ethos, values and behaviours are the first line of defence in maintaining quality.  Whilst the leadership within organisations providing care is ultimately responsible for the quality of care provided to patients.

The different organisations in the new health system also have distinct roles and responsibilities to ensure quality and promote a culture that places the patients at the heart of the health system.  Collectively these organisations must collaborate where appropriate and work closely together in order to effectively maintain and improve the quality of care that the health service delivers for its patients.

A network of local and regional Quality Surveillance Groups (QSG), which will be in action from 1 April 2013, will bring together commissioners, regulators and other bodies, in a virtual team, to share information and intelligence about quality across the system.

Many organisations are already sharing information in this way.  However, QSGs, supported and facilitated by the NHS Commissioning Board, will encourage consistency across every locality and region. Creating a culture of openness, transparency and cooperation, ensuring that organisations work together proactively to spot potential problems early on.

Organisations will then also need to work together reactively to act quickly in the event of potential or actual serious quality failures being identified, in line with the existing model of Risk Summits.

The NQB is publishing "Quality in the New Health System" in draft form so that it can be updated in the light of findings or recommendations from the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry, which is due to be published this Autumn.

The NQB would welcome views on the approach it describes from those working in or with an interest in the health system.  Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 30 September.

On the publication of the report, Sir David Nicholson, Chair of the NQB said:

"We all know the damaging effects failures in quality can have for patients.  The instances of appalling care at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust and Winterbourne View provide a stark reminder of this.

"The National Quality Board's report emphasises how all elements of the new health system are committed to driving improvements, assuring the quality of care and creating a culture which put patients at the heart of the health service.

"It also reaffirms our responsibilities and common purpose.  As individuals and collectively we have a duty to provide better care for patients."

David Bennett, Chair of Monitor said:

"This is an important report which sets out a clear approach to promoting and sustaining the quality of NHS services.

"It places quality as the primary duty for everyone working in the NHS and spells out the distinct roles and responsibilities for quality across the NHS.  Everyone has a part to play and everyone has accountability."

Dame Jo Williams, Chair of the Care Quality Commission, said:

"As structural change to the NHS gathers pace, it is more important than ever that the different organisations and individuals responsible for the vital task of delivering, commissioning and regulating healthcare work together to spot failings that can lead to patients being harmed as early as possible  . This report produced by the National Quality Board will not only help continue to do that but will also help support all parties in driving improvement in healthcare in England."

Dr Johnny Marshall, Interim Partnership Development Director NHS Clinical Commissioners, said:

"Clinical Commissioning Groups will have a central role in delivering better local health outcomes. NHS Clinical Commissioners welcomes this report as a valuable contribution to ongoing discussion about how we improve quality across the NHS. Quality improvement is a collective responsibility that requires a collaborative approach so that together we can deliver the best possible health outcomes from the resources available."

Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley said:

"I welcome this report by the National Quality Board.  Through the Health and Social Care Act 2012 we are ensuring that driving continuous improvement, keeping patients safe and the outcomes we achieve for them will be the focus for all involved in delivering care.

"Our reforms will put patients at the heart of the health service.  This report sets out how we can achieve this and work together to ensure that the health service delivers the very best care the public expect."

Source: ©DH

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