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Embedding a culture of quality improvement: summary

Overview

Quality improvement refers to the use of systematic tools and methods to continuously improve the quality of care and outcomes for patients. This report explores the factors that have helped organisations to launch a quality improvement strategy and sustain a focus on quality improvement.

The report draws on a roundtable event attended by senior local and national NHS leaders, semi-structured interviews with NHS leaders and senior stakeholders involved in quality improvement initiatives, and a literature review.

We identified three common themes for successfully launching a quality improvement strategy: having a clear rationale; ensuring staff are ready for change; understanding the implications for the organisation’s leadership team in terms of style and role.

Key enablers for embedding a culture of quality improvement included: developing and maintaining a new approach to leadership; allocating adequate time and resources; ensuring there is effective patient engagement and co-production; maintaining staff engagement. Fidelity to a chosen approach is critical to sustaining and embedding quality improvement in an organisation’s culture.

The report finds that NHS leaders play a key role in creating the right conditions for quality improvement. Leaders need to engage with staff, empower frontline teams to develop solutions, and ensure that there is an appropriate infrastructure in place to support staff and spread learning.