latest health care news

11.09.17

Ensuring quality in the new NHS

Dr Marion Andrews-Evans, member of the NHS Clinical Commissioners (NHSCC) Nurses Forum steering group and executive nurse & quality lead at NHS Gloucestershire CCG, sings the praises of CCG quality leads who are working in often unseen roles to help deliver safe and effective patient care.

As the NHS goes through a time of change, we need to make sure that the quality of services that we provide for patients is protected. Patient experience and safety has to be paramount both in the present and when planning for the future. The question is, in the new world of sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs), accountable care systems (ACSs) and other evolved commissioning systems, who will make sure that patient experience and safety remain a top priority?

Currently, it is the responsibility of the CCG board lead for quality. When CCGs were set up in 2013, one of the key legislative responsibilities was – and still is – to secure improvement in the quality of services provided in their area. Making sure this happens falls to the quality lead, a role in many cases fulfilled by a nurse. The role is a key one to protect patient care.

However, a number of members of the NHSCC Nurses Forum have raised concerns that in some STPs it has been intimated that this independent, objective function with a focus on quality is no longer needed. Instead, the argument goes that the ACS can monitor and improve the quality of services they provide with scrutiny falling to the CQC.

This won’t replace the huge amount of vital work that CCG quality leads carry out. Fundamentally, they stop things going wrong; unfortunately, this is why often their work goes unseen and their contribution to the safe and effective running of healthcare services is overlooked. They lead an often-hidden workforce in CCGs, made up of nurses and/or other clinical professionals who spend their days working to promote patient safety and clinical effectiveness.

As well as focusing on the patient’s experience and engaging with the public about their health services, they work closely with providers both within the NHS and those outside its boundaries including care homes, private hospitals and commercial community service providers to improve service quality. Wherever a patient accesses healthcare they should expect the same standard; the CCG quality lead works to make this happen.

In this changing landscape, this role is becoming more important than ever. It is well documented that when providers are developing new systems and models of organisational delivery, finances are stretched, or staffing levels are challenging, service quality is inevitably affected. As we approach the next stage of the STP process, all of these challenges are on the agenda. In this ‘perfect storm,’ patient care can become compromised. The risk of this happening will increase considerably if the role of the CCG quality lead in providing a system-wide independent view of assuring and improving quality across all health and care providers is diminished. It must be protected if we are to ensure that the best interests of the patients remain at the heart of our local healthcare services.

Comments

Cathy Balding   12/09/2017 at 07:54

This appears to be a world-wide conversation! I can understand the argument. But are we ready to ditch finance directors because managers should be responsible for and know how to manage their budgets? It's the same thing. Quality systems leadership and management is a technical speciality. Someone has to develop, implement and manage the quality systems that support managers and staff to fulfil their responsibility for providing high-quality care. They are complementary roles.

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

featured articles

View all News

last word

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad, president of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), sits down with National Health Executive as part of our Last Word Q&A series. Would you talk us throu more > more last word articles >

health service focus

View all News

comment

NHS England dementia director prescribes rugby for mental health and dementia patients

23/09/2019NHS England dementia director prescribes rugby for mental health and dementia patients

Reason to celebrate as NHS says watching rugby can be good for your mental ... more >
Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >

interviews

Matt Hancock says GP recruitment is on the rise to support ‘bedrock of the NHS’

24/10/2019Matt Hancock says GP recruitment is on the rise to support ‘bedrock of the NHS’

Today, speaking at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) annual... more >

the scalpel's daily blog

NHS at 72: Managing mental health services going forward

03/07/2020NHS at 72: Managing mental health services going forward

Sean Duggan, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Network Let’s take this opportunity to reflect on the amazing achievements of our health system over the past few ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

editor's comment

26/06/2020Adapting and Innovating

Matt Roberts, National Health Executive Editorial Lead. NHE May/June 2020 Edition We’ve been through so much as a health sector and a society in recent months with coronavirus and nothing can take away from the loss and difficulties that we’ve faced but it vital we also don’t disregard the amazing efforts we’ve witnessed. Staff have gone above and beyond, whole hospitals and trusts have flexed virtually at will to meet demand and pressures and we’ve... read more >