This paper, by the King's Fund, argues that the NHS in England cannot meet the healthcare needs of the population without a sustained and comprehensive commitment to quality improvement as its principal strategy.
- Successive governments have pursued policies to improve the quality of care in the NHS, but the many and varied initiatives failed through a lack of consistency and the distraction of other reforms.
- Efforts to improve quality of care have been hampered by competing beliefs about how improvements are best achieved.
- More than ever, the NHS must focus on delivering better value to the public. This means tackling unwarranted variations in clinical care, reducing waste, becoming more patient- and carer-focused, and ensuring that quality and safety are at the top of the health policy agenda.
- This is best done by supporting clinical leaders through education and training in quality improvement methods, and developing organisational cultures where leaders and staff focus on better value as a primary goal.
- Clarity about the role of inspection in a quality improvement system is vital. Done well, inspection has a part to pay in quality assurance – but this should not be confused with quality improvement.