Standards for Better Health: fit for purpose?

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.329.7477.1250 (Published 25 November 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:1250
  1. Charles D Shaw, independent international adviser on quality in health care (cdshaw@btopenworld.com)
  1. Roedean House, Brighton BN2 5RQ

    No: it's not clear what they are based on and the timescale is too short

    The Healthcare Commission is about to consult on measures for assessing the performance of healthcare providers in England. The standards against which it will be making these assessments were laid down in July by the Department of Health in Standards for Better Health.1 Despite their potential impact on service development, and on the ability of the commission to make valid and reliable assessments, the standards have received little attention. Yet they deserve to—for they provide a weak basis for assessment and improvement.

    The standards' main aims are to assure safe and acceptable services through compliance with minimal “core” standards; promote development by continuous improvement against optimal standards; reduce the burden of unhelpful standards and guidance; and underpin fair, responsive, and effective services. They consist of both core standards, which are assumed to be met already by all provider organisations, and developmental standards, which are to provide goals for service improvement.

    The standards are presented in seven domains designed to cover the full range …

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