Last week, a 1000 Lives Improvement master class looked at using ‘annual quality statements’ as a way of supporting improvement and celebrating the successes of NHS Wales organisations and its staff.
Since 2013 every NHS Wales organisation has been required to produce an Annual Quality Statement (AQS). This year the Welsh Government has produced the NHS Wales AQS covering the whole country for the first time.
The AQS is important because it presents information for the public and patients about services in NHS Wales in an accessible, easy-to-read format. It’s easy to get bogged down in data and statistics, and if figures are presented without any context then it’s hard to know if they represent good performance or whether urgent improvement is needed.
The All-Wales AQS is hopefully easy to read. It contains great examples of excellent care in Wales and notes when things could be better. It also includes links to the Annual Quality Statements produced by all the health boards and trusts in NHS Wales. These publications are important because we all want to know how well our local health services are doing.
Quality is a term that people sometimes argue about. There are several definitions of what makes a service ‘high quality’. But really, deep down, we all know what quality is – it’s getting things right, making people feel safe and cared for, and making sure people get help to improve their health, or receive the care they need at the end of life with as much dignity and compassion as possible.
Publishing an AQS is a good way of being open and honest about where sometimes we get it wrong, highlighting situations where services aren’t as good as we would wish and identifying ways to improve, and ensuring people do feel treated with dignity and compassion.
The AQS covers these important issues, and more. It includes the work being done to protect the health of people who aren’t ill through such things as immunisation programmes and helping people to quit smoking. The principles of prudent healthcare run through the AQS – especially the focus on safe, timely, effective, patient-centred care.
The only way to build trust and genuine relationships between the NHS and the people of Wales is through openness and transparency on both sides. The AQS is one way NHS Wales is being open – the times when things don’t go right, and the work being done to sort this out, are included.
The master class was for the people involved in creating annual quality statements for NHS Wales health boards and trusts. The All-Wales AQS was discussed, with insights into how it was put together. NHS Wales teams shared their approaches to producing an AQS, and discussed ideas for improving the process and involving service users and the public in creating future quality statements.
Hopefully the publication of the All-Wales AQS will mark the beginning of greater openness in reporting on the good work of teams across Wales, as well as when systems and services can be improved, so that we all can celebrate the good things and work together to improve.
Jan Davies is a Specialist Advisor – Quality & Patient Safety, Welsh Government. Read the NHS Wales Annual Quality Statement here.
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