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

Published: 22 Oct 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


Notes to editors

BSI is the business improvement company that enables organizations to turn standards of best practice into habits of excellence. For over a century BSI has championed what good looks like and driven best practice in organizations around the world. Working with over 86,000 clients across 193 countries, it is a truly international business with skills and experience across a number of sectors including automotive, aerospace, built environment, food, and healthcare. Through its expertise in Standards Development and Knowledge Solutions, Assurance and Professional Services, BSI improves business performance to help clients grow sustainably, manage risk and ultimately be more resilient.

Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) aims to improve health outcomes by enabling those who commission, deliver and receive healthcare to measure and improve our healthcare services. HQIP commissions, manages, supports and promotes national and local programmes of quality improvement. This includes the national and local clinical audit programmes, the clinical outcome review programmes and the National Joint Registry on behalf of NHS England and other healthcare departments and organisations.

Royal College of Anaesthetists
Anaesthesia is the single largest hospital specialty in the NHS. The Royal College of Anaesthetists is the professional body responsible for the specialty throughout the UK, and it ensures the quality of patient care through the maintenance of standards in anaesthesia, intensive care and pain medicine.

Royal College of Nursing
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is a membership organisation of more than 435,000 registered nurses, midwives, nursing support workers and nursing students. It is both a professional body carrying out work on nursing standards, education and practice and a trade union.

Royal College of Physicians
The RCP’s core mission is to drive improvements in health and healthcare through advocacy, education and research. It is an independent patient centred and clinically led organisation, that drives improvement in the diagnosis of disease, the care of individual patients and the health of the whole population both in the UK and across the globe.

The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is the national accreditation body for the United Kingdom, appointed by government, to assess organisations that provide certification, testing, inspection and calibration services.