Making the case for quality improvement: lessons for NHS boards and leaders

Published: 11th October 2017

This briefing co-authored by The King’s Fund and The Health Foundation outlines 10 lessons for NHS leaders that provide a starting point for leaders seeking to embed quality improvement in their work.

Access Making the case for quality improvement: lessons for NHS boards and leaders via the King’s Fund website.

The 10 lessons for NHS leaders include:

  • Make quality improvement a leadership priority for boards.
  • Share responsibility for quality improvement with leaders at all levels.
  • Don’t look for magic bullets or quick fixes.
  • Develop the skills and capabilities for improvement.
  • Have a consistent and coherent approach to quality improvement.
  • Use data effectively.
  • Focus on relationships and culture.
  • Enable and support frontline staff to engage in quality improvement.
  • Involve patients, service users and carers.
  • Work as a system.

The briefing asserts that whilst improving quality and reducing costs are sometimes seen as conflicting aims when they are in fact often two sides of the same coin. It suggests that there are many opportunities in the NHS to deliver better outcomes at lower cost (improving value), for example by reducing unwarranted variations in care and addressing overuse, misuse and underuse of treatment. The briefing outlines examples across the NHS showing that even relatively small-scale quality improvement initiatives can lead to significant benefits for patients and staff, while also delivering better value.

The briefing asserts that NHS leaders, and boards in particular, have a vital role to play in creating a supportive environment for quality improvement within their organisation. For example, by providing a clear vision and objectives for improving quality and putting in place the capabilities and support needed for staff to improve services. It also suggests that leaders must also work between organisations to develop new care models and co-ordinate improvements.

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