Quality standards

Our quality standards set out priority areas for quality improvement in health, public health and social care.

They highlight areas with identified variations in current practice. Each standard includes:

  • a set of statements to help improve quality
  • information on how to measure progress.

View our quality standards

Who can use them

Anyone looking to improve the quality of health, public health and social care can use our quality standards. This includes commissioners, service providers, practitioners and charities. It could also be service users and those close to them.

They can be referred to by partner organisations who want to follow a consistent approach when defining, measuring and delivering high quality care.

Regulators like the Care Quality Commission and Ofsted endorse the use of quality standards to help identify and define good quality care.

We've produced a quality standard service improvement template (Excel). This helps providers make an initial assessment of their service compared with a selection of quality statements. The template includes:

  • how to assess current practice
  • recording an action plan
  • monitoring quality improvement.

Example quality statement:

Older people using home care services have a home care plan that identifies how their personal priorities and outcomes will be met."

Home care for older people, NICE quality standard

How they can be used

Our quality standards can be used for:

Quality improvement

  • identifying areas for quality improvement
  • designing and conducting audits
  • writing improvement and action plans
  • demonstrating the level at which services should be provided/setting goals
  • training and education.

Quality assurance and monitoring

  • developing frameworks for quality assurance
  • identifying gaps in services, benchmarking and monitoring/tracking changes
  • setting key performance indicators (KPIs) and monitoring performance
  • evidence of service quality for regulators.

Influencing commissioning

  • identifying support or changes needed to improve services
  • supporting business cases along with requests for funding and resources.

How to use our quality standards

Are they mandatory?

Our quality standards are not mandatory. But they do support the government's vision for a health and care system focused on delivering the best possible health outcomes.

How we develop them

Our quality standards are developed independently in collaboration with health and social care professionals, practitioners and service users. They're based on our guidance and other NICE-accredited sources.

View the timeline for developing quality standards.

How we select topics

We use the quality standards topic library to choose the topics for development. We produce a shortlist each September. This is then finalised with the relevant commissioning bodies.

Selecting and prioritising quality standard topics

Help develop quality standards

Tell us your key priorities

Help us understand the areas with the greatest potential to improve the quality of care.  

Comment on a draft quality standard

Your opportunity to contribute to the development of a quality standard. 

Support a quality standard

Apply to become a supporting organisation for a standard that's being developed.

Join a committee

Be part of the group that develops the standards: the Quality Standards Advisory Committee (QSAC).

Contact us

For more information, email qualitystandards@nice.org.uk