Why is accreditation important to my profession?
British healthcare practitioners are generally regraded as being amongst the best in world.
However, a significant weakness – both in the National Health Service and the independent healthcare sector – is lack of consistency in the quality of care provided.
Patients will complain that they will receive treatment from one provider and on another occasion will attend a different location where the standard of care will vary significantly.
Accreditation of healthcare services improves the consistency, quality and effectiveness. Practitioners know what is expected by their employer, their colleagues and by patients.
Accreditation schemes are increasingly being recognised by the Care Quality Commission and approved for use in the CQC inspection methodology.
From sceptic to sold
Neil Meadows, a radiographer, had his doubts when he first heard his department was about to work towards accreditation under the Imaging Service Accreditation Scheme (ISAS).
Neil, angiography section head at Peterborough and Stamford NHS Foundation Trust, explains: “My colleague Claire Bevan was leading the work and when we first spoke about it I was quite sceptical.
We already had systems and protocols in place and what was proposed seemed to be a lot of hard work to just tick some boxes. I wasn’t 100% sure it would be of any benefit.
“Over time, I started to see that it was a good idea,” he now admits. “Yes, there was a lot to do, but after that initial mass of work everything is then a smooth progression.”
Part of Neil’s role is developing and delivering training programmes. ISAS helped him to formalise these and other areas of his work.
“I’ve got it all written down now, as well as all the protocols for every procedure. I was in the Air Force for 22 years, so for me this was going back to my old ways – having rigid protocols to work to is wonderful! Now, no one can say to me that they don’t know something because it’s all there for them to access.”
Neil also discovered that ISAS helped to improve relations with clinicians and other healthcare professionals across the trust.
“I work in theatre where our interventional suite is based. When I’ve been asked by clinicians ‘have you policies on this?’, I can confidently say ‘yes’ and access them straight away.
“The first time it happened, I was asked if we had a departmental consent policy. It was at this point that all of that hard work suddenly made sense. And it’s been a great tool for me too because its raised my credibility as well as our department’s profile generally.”
Neil’s colleague, Liam Gale, principal advanced GI practitioner and senior radiographer, has also discovered some less obvious benefits of ISAS.
“The accreditation process made us look at what we did and why,” Liam says. “As well as looking at and developing individual procedures, it helped me to understand how the whole department worked.”
It wasn’t until Liam was selected for CPD audit by his registration body, the Health and Care Professions Council, that he realised just how useful ISAS was to him personally.
“I was able to use a lot of the evidence we generated for ISAS as part of my CPD submission. I could easily prove my ongoing professional development through the case studies and research that we had done. It was very useful.”
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