Accreditation of clinical services

What is clinical service accreditation? 

"...a self-assessment and external peer assessment process used by [clinical services] to accurately assess their level of performance in relation to established standards and to implement ways to continuously improve." From: ‘Standards for accreditation programmes', International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua), 1999.


HQIP is a patient-professional parrtnership that supports the use of a wide variety of data-driven quality improvement approaches - and a key approach here being professionally-led clinical accreditation schemes.

2009: the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AOMRC) asked HQIP to lead a piece of work on professionally-led clinical service accreditation models. HQIP created a vision of how the disparate schemes (typically run by Royal Colleges) could be aligned under a single accredited system: the Core Model for Clinical Service Accreditation'. While the National Quality Board (that supports NHS England) agreed the model it also recommended further consultation, to include consideration of the practical implications of developing a core model.

2012: HQIP hosted a meeting with those key stakeholders involved in accreditation to share experience and to hear about research into effectiveness in accreditation and best practice internationally. This saw Dr David Greenfield from the University New South Wales and Dr Charles Shaw present to the group:

Current work and the future

2014: criteria to assess suitability of accreditation schemes to contribute data to CQC's new inspection scheme

Various developments in commissioning and regulation have raised the importance of multi-disciplinary clinical service accreditation. One of these being the new inspection model of the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The CQC recognises that its teams cannot inspect every part of an organisation and is keen to make use of information and evidence from partners to guide teams on where and what to inspect. Peer review and accreditation schemes are to be an important part of this as well as audit.

Working together with the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych), Royal College of Surgeons (RCS), HQIP and other key stakeholders have established a profession- and patient-led clinical service accreditation ‘alliance'.

Working with the Alliance, HQIP has led on the development of a set of criteria to assess the suitability of accreditation schemes to provide robust and reliable information for consideration ahead of and during CQC inspections.

CQC has set up a panel to consider each scheme against these criteria, led by deputy chief inspector of hospitals (and lead for mental health) Dr Paul Lelliot and former Chair of HQIP. Deadline for submissions was Friday 7 March 2014 and HQIP will continue to update this page as the outcome emerges.

HQIP will continue to work with the Alliance, and independently, to further develop the concept of a core model of professionally lead clinical service accreditation and its positioning in the NHS.

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