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NHS quality indicators go live

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A set of national quality indicators that can be used to measure the performance of NHS nurses has been published by the government.

The Department of Health has revealed a list of over 200 indicators or ‘metrics’ that are intended to measure the performance of clinical teams – the development of which was first outlined in the NHS Next Stage Review in June.

The government has whittled its list of 232 down from more than 400 possible indicators suggested in a consultation document, launched in November. The final metrics fall into in three main categories – patient experience, effectiveness and safety.

The patient experience category metrics include a scores based on patient observations of staff hand hygiene practices, and patients’ levels of confidence in staff. For example, patients will record whether nurses ‘always’ or ‘sometimes’ washed or cleaned their hands between touching patients.

One of the metrics in the effectiveness category is for teams and organisations to measure the incidence of pressure ulcers per 10,000 patients, while the safety category includes measures for sickness absence rates among staff.

The government hopes that the indicators will be used by clinicians to measure their own performance and benchmark their work.

However, a Department of Health spokesperson said that it would be up to individual organisations and clinical teams as to whether they used the indicators, and that they were not mandatory and were not meant to be seen as new targets.

Announcing the indicator list, health minister Lord Darzi said: ‘These quality indicators have been developed in partnership with frontline staff. This initial list is just the start of a NHS-wide resource that will challenge and stimulate NHS staff to drive up the quality of care they deliver to patients.’

Lord Darzi said that within the next few months the government would also publish benchmarking data that would offer a means of comparison between local clinical teams and act as the ‘basis for local quality improvement’.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • The quality of care for our patients and patients experience is of paramount importance in the delivery of care.The improvement in the environment which includes hygiene and sufficient staffing is the way forward. Recruitment and retention in the NHS has always been the big problem.Having the indicators in place is the great idea to guide the practice but if the environment is not conducive the end result will be the failure of the system. The Government ,therefore should invest in the NHS and the care to be monitored.

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