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Professional bodies should provide accreditation of healthcare services to improve patient safety

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 19 August 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4420
  1. Narinder Kapur, visiting professor and consultant neuropsychologist, University College London, WC1E 7HJ
  1. n.kapur{at}

Bodies such as the UK royal colleges and related professional organisations should develop systems for peer review of clinical services to drive up quality, says Narinder Kapur

“We tend to default too quickly to top-down rather than peer review as the best way of improving standards,” the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, is reported as saying of the NHS.1

Accreditation is a well established form of external peer review that takes place in education. In healthcare, however, it is patchy, and some clinical services have none. Although accreditation is not a panacea for failings in healthcare and is only one part of the jigsaw that makes up the pursuit of clinical excellence and patient safety,2 3 it can help substantially in reducing medical errors4; in one study the improvement was found to be around a 50% reduction in medical administration errors.5

Accreditation may help to raise standards by highlighting trusts that have poor staffing levels, allow poor practice, or fail to follow professional guidelines. Patients benefit from confidence that the services they are using have accreditation, and …

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