Front line staff should be involved in efforts to improve care quality

A new strategy launched by the King's Fund sets out how NHS organisations can improve the service they deliver to patients


Front line clinical staff must be involved in efforts to improve the quality of care in the NHS, and the opinions of patients and the public need to be heard, the author of a new King’s Fund strategy says.

Don Berwick, international visiting fellow at the The King’s Fund and co-author of its new report Improving Quality in the English NHS: A Strategy for Action, told delegates at the document’s launch today that a disenfranchised workforce was cause for concern.

Mr Berwick, who carried out a review of patient safety for prime minister David Cameron in 2013, said: ‘These are tough times in the NHS with a demoralised workforce, and pressures on production are unprecedented. 

‘Early signs of deterioration cause those of us who are great fans of the NHS to be concerned.’

The strategy draws on previous reports on quality improvement and sets out 10 principles to help NHS organisations improve.

These include:

  • Building in-house capacity for quality improvement.
  • Establishing a modestly sized national centre of expertise.
  • Integrating work on quality improvement with leadership development.
  • Involving front line clinical leaders and leaders of NHS organisations in developing a quality improvement strategy.
  • Ensuring the voice of patients and the public is sought and heard.
  • Identifying rapidly what is and is not working.

Mr Berwick said England should learn from the NHS Scotland, which has experienced a 23% improvement in patient mortality in six years.

The King’s Fund chief executive Chris Ham, who also co-authored the report with The Health Foundation chief executive Jennifer Dixon, said: ‘The time is ripe for us to set out a quality strategy.

‘There is a real risk of focusing on efficiency and cost cutting and not framing debate around value and outcomes and quality of care [but] we know from examples that if we do focus on improving quality there is every possibility of reducing waste and delivering improvements in care.

'But we have to engage staff and clinicians in this.'

Read the report here 


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