Accreditation of clinical services


  • What is clinical service accreditation?
  • What is the Clinical Services Accreditation Alliance?
  • Governance
  • Outputs - tools and guidance on establishing accreditation and more
  • Background to HQIP's work on clinical accreditation
  • Current work and the future

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.”
‘Standards for accreditation programmes’, International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua), 1999


What is the Clinical Services Accreditation Alliance (CSAA)?

The CSAA is a collection of professional bodies who first came together in 2013. It aims to standardise and improve the quality of healthcare service accreditation, ensuring patient focus, improvements in standards of care and minimal administrative burden on the healthcare system.

This work culminated in November 2016 with the publication of six guidances (see below) and a launch event at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS).


HQIP is proud to have been one of the leading bodies for CSAA working alongside these Sponsor Group members:

  • The Royal College of Nursing
  • The Royal College of physicians
  • The Royal College of Surgeons
  • The Royal Pharmaceutical Society
  • The Allied Health Care Professionals and
  • The Academy for Healthcare Science

CSAA is also overseen by a Project Board and Stakeholder Advisory Group. Full details of the membership and governance structure, can be found here

CSAA outputs - tools, guidance and resources

As part of its two-year collaboration, the Alliance has developed a suite of resources to support professional bodies who wish to develop professionally-led and patient-centred clinical accreditation schemes. The resources were published in late November 2016 and comprise:

Each work stream is available to download from the official CSAA website.

Background to HQIP’s work on Clinical Service Accreditation

HQIP is a patient professional partnership 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) approved 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.

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).
Working together the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), Royal College of Nursing (RCN), Royal College of Surgeons (RCS), HQIP and other key stakeholders established a profession and patient-led clinical service accreditation ‘alliance’.

Working as part of the Alliance, at this stage HQIP 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.