NICE launches quality standards for the NHS

Article: 8040872 stethoscopeNICE has unveiled the first set of quality standards, setting out a vision of what high-quality care should look like for patients on the NHS.

Some 150 clinical areas will eventually have their own set of quality standards, with the first three standards published yesterday covering the treatment and care of stroke, dementia and venous-thromboembolism (VTE) prevention.

The new quality standards are a series of concise statements that show what high-quality care should look like for these conditions, and are sourced from the best available evidence such as NICE guidance, or evidence accredited by NHS Evidence.

Speaking at the launch of the standards in Brighton, health secretary Andrew Lansley, heralded their introduction as “a very significant day for the NHS”.

“Arriving at these quality standards is an absolutely critical thing to do. I want the NHS to focus on better health outcomes, providing a service that better reflects what is important to patients, and builds upon clinical evidence.

“Quality standards give an authoritative statement on what high quality NHS healthcare should look like in relation to dementia, stroke and VTE prevention. It will, in future, support a service which is focused on outcomes and looks for the evidence on how to achieve continuously improving outcomes.

“This advice will be used by the NHS to commission and provide high-quality and cost-effective services. It will increasingly, with other quality standards in future, be a basis for commissioning, for designing incentives for quality, and relate to quality inspection. Whilst these standards identify processes, they will not be seen as processes in isolation from each other, or from the outcomes achieved. With clinical sign-up, they are a basis for supporting clinical judgement, not distorting it."

Sir Andrew Dillon, Chief Executive of NICE said: “What we have been able to do is to express really concisely in a limited number of statements what constituents a really high standard of care for patients.

“If those who are providing the services are performing well against these standards then they can be confident, and we can be confident, that we are going to get that high quality care, and that we are going to end up with the outcomes we expect from the NHS.”

“But they are not just designed for the NHS. They are as much for the public and they have been written in a way that, we believe, will allow the public to get an understanding of what they can get as an individual if they need support on the NHS. It's a way that they can hold the NHS to account for the delivering of high quality care,” he said.

Sir David Nicholson, Chief Executive of the NHS, added that the development of the quality standards would benefit from the huge experience of NICE and the methodologies that they us.

Dr Tim Kendall, who led development of the dementia standard, said that it would help transform the experience of dementia patients but also support carers.

“Some carers suffer far more than they should. People with dementia effectively die while the person caring for them watches them disappear,” he said.

He added that the dementia quality standard would also help to reduce the number of patients on antipsychotic drugs.

“When someones behavior becomes challenging, those who are caring for them should look for the factors that might be causing this and address those problems. They should also be trained so that they can deal with challenging behavior so that they do not need to offer antipsychotics.

“If people with dementia are given good quality care, then the use of antipsychotic drugs should drop.”

Dr Tony Rudd, who chaired the Stroke Topic Expert Group, said: “These quality standards distill the key elements of stoke care that every patient should receive.

“I'm very excited about the quality statement based around offering patients active therapy. At the moment, some patients are not receiving any therapy and are just doing nothing. But driving up the amount of therapy that people get has a huge impact on outcomes.”

Professor Gerard Stansby, chair of the VTE prevention Topic Expert Group, said that the standard would be central to the care of patients with VTE, a condition that kills over 20,000 people a year.

1 July 2010

This page was last updated: 01 July 2010

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Copyright 2014 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. All rights reserved.