UK health, quality and standards organisations join forces in support of clinical service accreditation

22 October 2019

Increasing assurances mechanisms and accreditation in clinical services will lead to improvements in the quality of health services in the UK, according to a consortium of British organisations.

BSI, Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP), Royal College of Anaesthetists, Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Physicians, and the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) have joined forces to encourage the use of independent assessment of clinical services in the UK health sector.

In a joint statement of intent published today the organisations outline their commitment to working together to:

  • improve the quality and effectiveness of healthcare by providing clinical services with an infrastructure and a set of requirements that enables a structured approach to quality improvement against which they can be assessed
  • encourage further development of certification schemes in clinical services and to have the providers of those schemes accredited against national standard
  • integrate these initiatives with regulatory bodies (such as the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and other inspection and improvement processes so that commissioners, service providers and service users have a mechanism that supports quality improvement and provides assurance

Scott Steedman, Director of Standards, BSI said:

“BSI standards are a consensus of best practice, providing structure and guidance for the delivery of high quality, patient centric clinical services in a resource efficient manner. Working together with HQIP and UKAS, we want to provide an integrated and sustainable framework that will enable clinical services to be independently measured against national standards, facilitating regulatory inspections and enhancing quality improvement programmes, all with the goal of building a more resilient healthcare system.”

Jane Ingham, HQIP Chief Executive Officer, said:

“Accreditation presents the opportunity for clinical services to be independently measured against national standards. Accreditation is somewhat overlooked as an improvement tool but we’re heartened to see it being increasingly adopted in the clinical services sector. In producing the statement of intent, we are formalising our commitment to working together to further the use of accreditation in this area.”

Professor Ravi Mahajan, President of the Royal College of Anaesthetists, said:

“I am proud the College has worked so closely with the BSI, HQIP, UKAS and our partners within the Clinical Service Accreditation Alliance in developing a road map to implement an even greater use of accreditation across the UK’s health sector. Developing robust clinical standards to which our national accreditation schemes measure against are all designed with the patient’s safety and care at its core. Accreditation importantly also provides consistency for clinicians, reduces the burden on healthcare regulators and helps ensure value for money in healthcare.”

Professor Andrew Goddard, President Royal College of Physicians, said:

“Having delivered accreditation programmes for clinical services for over 10 years we know that accreditation is an effective model for demonstrating that good clinical care is being delivered to patients. The dedication and commitment required by clinical teams to improve their ways of working and meet accreditation standards makes them better able to provide assurances to patients and regulators about the quality of services.”

Matt Gantley, UKAS Chief Executive Officer, said:

“UKAS has an established reputation in the delivery of accreditation to scientific and diagnostic services in healthcare and is well placed to develop its accreditation services to support other assurance mechanisms.  Alongside BSI and HQIP, we are committed to supporting the uptake of accredited certification to deliver greater confidence and trust in other clinical services to provide assurance for patients and regulators alike”   

Responding to the publication, Professor Ted Baker, CQC’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said:

“We welcome the commitment made by HQIP, BSI and UKAS today to encourage the use of clinical accreditation among healthcare providers. Participation in approved accreditation schemes, research projects and other quality improvement initiatives is an important way that providers can demonstrate they have robust processes for learning, continuous improvement and innovation and is something we consider in our assessments of independent and NHS providers.”

HQIP is a Statement of Intent signatory on behalf of the Clinical Service Accreditation Sponsor Group. This is a governance group with membership from the Royal College of Anaesthetists, the Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Physicians and HQIP.