Accreditation and the NSQHS Standards

The Australian Health Service Safety and Quality Accreditation (AHSSQA) scheme provides for the national coordination of accreditation processes.

Collecting and analysing feedback on the lessons learnt through accreditation is an essential part of quality improvement. Under the new arrangements the Commission will use feedback to maintain and update the NSQHS Standards and to identify areas where health services may require additional support or tools.

Improvement across the health care system can be achieved when feedback from accreditation of health service organisations is used by:

Regulators (state and territory health departments) – to support health service improvement and facilitate better understanding for health service organisations about their quality of care

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) – to develop resources and tools to support good practice and to maintain the currency of the NSQHS Standards

Health Ministers – to drive changes in policy and investment around safety and quality

The AHSSQA Scheme consists of 5 inter-related elements to support the application of the NSQHS Standards. The roles of each are broadly as follows:

Health Ministers endorse the NSQHS Standards and receive information about health service organisations’ performance against the Standards.

The State, Territory and Commonwealth governments determine the health service organisations required to participate in an accreditation process using the NSQHS Standards. They receive data on the outcomes of accreditation of health service organisations and respond to emerging issues.

Health service organisations implement the actions required to meet the Standards and select an approved accrediting agency to assess their compliance in meeting the Standards. This involves a contractual relationship with the accrediting agency that recognises that accreditation data will be provided to regulators and the Commission for reporting and review.

The approved accrediting agencies assess health service organisations against the Standards. They may also offer to assess against a range of other standards

A program of national coordination within the Commission that will:

develop and maintain the NSQHS Standards

advise Health Ministers on the scope of accreditation i.e. which health service organisations are to be accredited. The initial focus will be on high risk services

approve accrediting agencies to assess against the Standards

undertake ongoing liaison with Regulators on opportunities to improve the Standards and the accreditation system

report to Health Ministers annually on safety and quality.


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