Key points

  • This guide focuses on quality improvement, and is especially useful for health care staff leading fast and efficient service change as a result of the pandemic. 
  • Quality improvement involves the use of a systematic and coordinated approach to solving a problem using specific methods and tools with the aim of bringing about a measurable improvement within a health care setting.

Improving quality is about making health care safe, effective, patient-centred, timely, efficient and equitable. It’s about giving the people closest to problems affecting care quality the time, permission, skills and resources they need to solve them. In the history of the NHS, there has never been a greater focus on improving the quality of health services.

As we shift from the emergency phase of COVID-19 it is vital that health and care workforces are able and supported to lead radical service change and improvements through re-starting, re-designing or developing new processes, pathways and services. 

This guide offers an explanation of some popular approaches used to improve quality, including where they have come from, their underlying principles and their efficacy and applicability within the healthcare arena. It also describes the factors that can help to ensure the successful use of these approaches and methods. to improve the quality of care processes, pathways and services.

It is written for a general health care audience and will be most useful for those new to the field of quality improvement, or those wanting to be reminded of the key points.

First published in 2013 and updated in 2021, this is the third edition of Quality improvement made simple. The third edition was updated on 19 May 2021 to reflect NHSEI's newly published definition of quality.

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