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Professionally led accreditation of services, as distinct from accreditation of individuals, has the potential to raise standards of care and reduce the large variations in practice across the country. The Royal College of Physicians now runs five accreditation programmes, in conjunction with an extensive programme of recurrent national clinical audits and guideline development. In particular, the JAG endoscopy accreditation programme has been an outstanding success.
I have argued that a range of similar programmes across all specialities and led by specialists and patients would do most of the work of the Care Quality Commission through the principle that professional advice and support, rather than the usual criticism and punishment, will improve services. In 2013 Sir Mike Richards gave support to this concept.
So why have accreditation schemes not blossomed across all of healthcare? Because there is limited support, financial or otherwise, from the Department of Health or NHS England. If they were to understand the potential, and work collaboratively with the Royal Colleges, much could be achieved between us, but instead they continue to be disappointingly reluctant to work with us and tap our expertise and clinical influence.
No competing interests
08 September 2015
Richard PH Thompson
immediate past president, Royal College of Physicians