Patients will be more confident in your services if you can show their quality.
Quality standards are generally determined by the intended users of a service or those that commission or regulate it.
Quality assurance is normally sought through a set of activities that are intended to ensure that services satisfy customer needs and requirements in a systematic and reliable manner.
Information can be collected through patient surveys, regulators’ audits and by seeking the views of others, via user groups, for example.
Other tools can pick up quality standards. These include key performance indicators and benchmarking.
All these methods will lead to a level of quality assurance that should allow users to have confidence in their care providers and their leaders.
Not all users are the same, so you need to ensure you hear everyone’s opinion and take all viewpoints and needs into consideration.
Traditionally, certain groups have not been heard, such as those with learning disabilities or mental health problems, ethnic minorities and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. As a leader, you are responsible for seeking out and working with their opinions.
Quality standards are set at many levels, including within organisations and departments. Internal quality assurance needs to involve more inward-looking processes to assess individual practices and to determine how you and your team are performing against your and their expectations.
As a leader, it is your responsibility to be knowledgeable of the quality assurance levels expected within your team and your organisation as a whole.
Listen to those using your service, and apply improved quality assurance measures to meet their requirements.
Having listened and defined quality standards, lead on their delivery. Meeting targets, such as reducing waiting times or improving GP access, will not happen without a proactive lead implementing strategies.
How to implement and improve quality assurance
- Review and critique the quality specifications relevant to your area of practice, discipline or organisation. What one thing could you do to increase compliance?
- Develop your thoughts, depending on your job role, now and in the future, on how you will better engage with those whose voices are heard less.
- Ensure a high quality of work is everyone’s responsibility. Define your specific responsibilities and include these in your objectives.
For some, quality assurance exists only to chase government targets or to please senior management.
It is your job to educate your team about the need for quality assurance and motivate them to embrace it.
Having involved your team and implemented quality assurance strategies, it is vital to monitor performance so you are aware of the steps you have made and those you still need to make towards improving or maintaining quality within your organisation.
- This is an excerpt from Clinical Leadership from A to Z by Dickon Weir-Hughes. Available from Amazon.co.uk
Dickon Weir-Hughes is chief executive and registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Before his appointment in 2009, Professor Weir-Hughes held senior roles at Barking, Havering and Redbridge, The Royal Marsden Hospital and Chelsea and Westminster hospitals.