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CQC Essentials: NICE quality standards in general practice

Using NICE quality standards to conduct regular audits of performance can help practices to demonstrate that the care they a delivering is high quality and evidence-based during a CQC inspection.

This article relates to the CQC key question: Is your practice effective? 

What are NICE quality standards?

NICE QS are concise sets of prioritised statements designed to drive measurable improvements within a particular area of health or care.

They are developed as part of an independent and transparent process, and are derived from the best available evidence. They are, in effect, a distillation of the key priority areas for audit and service improvement within a clinical guideline. Whilst clinical guidelines often include over a hundred recommendations, a QS typically includes the key 6 to 8 prioritised statements.

The QS cover a range of common diseases managed in primary care and some topics beyond the scope of the QOF. See the full list:

How could practices use NICE QS?

We expect practices to conduct regular audits of its performance as part of our key question ‘is care effective?’ As QS are evidence-based statements of best practice, practices may find them useful standards against which to conduct clinical audits as part of their audit program.

By using QS in an audit program, practices will be better able to demonstrate that their service meets the ratings characteristics of ‘Good’ and ‘Outstanding’ which are described in the appendices to our provider handbook.

Where can I find out more?

NICE manages a local practice collection on its website showcasing approaches to implementing guidelines and standards.

This collection includes shared learning case studies submitted by health and care organisations across the UK showing how NICE guidance and standards have been put into practice. A number of the 500 examples in the collection relate to Quality Standards. For example, the ‘using quality and productivity to enhance heart failure pathway in primary care’ case study from East Sussex shows how the quality standard for chronic heart failure (QS9) was used to improve the local primary care pathway.

  • Professor Nigel Sparrow is senior national GP advisor and responsible officer at the CQC

More CQC resources

Picture: iStock

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