Guide to questions and statements required for a Quality Account

All healthcare providers have to answer questions in relation to the quality of healthcare they provide. They also need to give a detailed statement about the quality of each of the services they provide.

Indicators of quality

NHS and foundation trusts are required to report on a prescribed set of quality indicators in their Quality Accounts. The Health and Social Care Inforamtion Centre (HSCIC) Indicator Portal provides the latest data reported for each of the indicators. As trusts will be using the same data sources, they can easily be compared with each other. Trusts are asked to report the result for each quality indicator by following a prescribed statement, including what actions they have taken, or will take, to improve the results and therefore the quality of care they provide.

There are 15 quality indicators, however trusts will only have to report on the ones that are relevant to the services they provide. For example, an ambulance trust will include different indicators to those of a mental health trust as they provide different services.

Review of services

Find information about how many services a healthcare provider looked at in the last financial year. In order to measure the quality of a healthcare service, providers should review all relevant data available to them.

Deciding on areas for improvement

Organisations must decide on at least three areas where they are planning to improve the quality of their services. Organisations should also provide details about how they prioritise improvements and why and how they are planning to report back on progress to their patients and the public. Patients’ views should be taken into account when organisations decide on the priorities for improvement.

Taking part in national, local and clinical audits

A clinical audit is the process by which the quality of care and services provided are measured against agreed standards. Where services do not meet the agreed standard, the audit provides a framework where suggestions for improvements can be made. A third party conducts national audits. Participating in these audits gives organisations the opportunity to compare their results with other organisations. Local audits are conducted by the organisation itself. Here they evaluate aspects of care that the healthcare professionals themselves have selected as being important to their team. The statements on clinical audit demonstrate the healthcare provider is concerned with monitoring the quality of their services and improving the healthcare provided.

Taking part in clinical research

Clinical research is a central part of the NHS, as it is through research that the NHS is able to offer new treatments and improve people’s health. Organisations that take part in clinical research are actively working to improve the drugs and treatments offered to their patients. This statement shows the number of patients who were recruited to take part in clinical research and being treated by the healthcare provider. Participation in clinical research gives patients access to the latest drugs and treatments in development.

What the Care Quality Commission (CQC) says about us

The CQC is responsible for ensuring health and social care services meet essential standards of quality and safety. Healthcare providers must register their service with the CQC or they will not be allowed to operate. Providers must give two statements to the CQC, these are described below.

The first statement gives information on a provider’s registration status. Organisations are either registered without any conditions, registered with conditions, or not registered. The CQC can apply specific conditions in response to serious risks that it finds. For example, it can demand a ward or service is closed until the provider meets safety requirements, or that it is suspended or taken off the register if absolutely necessary.

The CQC also encourages improvements to healthcare services by making information about the quality of a provider’s care available to the public and by carrying out reviews and investigations about particular types of care.

The second statement provides information on what reviews and/or investigations the provider has taken part in and what the CQC said about the provider.

Accuracy of our data

Organisations need to collect accurate data so they can define the quality of the services they provide. The statements in the data accuracy section are designed to give an indication of the quality and accuracy of the information an organisation collects.

The first statement provides information on the number of patient records held by an organisation, including a patient’s NHS number and the General Medical Practice Code for a patient’s GP practice. It is important that a patient’s NHS number is recorded in their notes to ensure they are correctly identified at all times and receive appropriate treatment. It is also important that the General Medical Practice Code is recorded so that information about the patient’s health and any hospital treatment received is sent back to their GP, who should be able to treat the patient appropriately.

The second statement shows the score that a provider achieved after a self-assessment. Organisations use a toolkit provided by NHS Connecting for Health to assist in measuring the quality of the IT data systems, standards and processes used in the organisation to collect data.

The third statement provides information on the number of errors introduced into a patient’s notes. This may occur when a clinical coder translates the written information provided by a clinician regarding a patient’s diagnosis and treatment into standard codes. These codes are nationally and internationally recognised and are used by healthcare professionals and researchers to check on the outcomes of a patient’s diagnosis and treatment and compare it to other patients and organisations in other parts of the country and abroad. 

Page last reviewed: 15/03/2016

Next review due: 15/03/2018

Care Quality Commission

Find out how the CQC ensures all care services in England provide people with safe, effective, compassionate and high quality care

About health records

Find out about the different types of medical records in the NHS and what they're used for