New International Report Highlights Quality at Heart of Welsh NHS

A new international report has concluded that quality is at the heart of the Welsh NHS and patient-centred care is a major priority.

The report into the quality of healthcare in Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland is published by the highly-respected Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The two-year study also finds that “no consistent picture emerges of one of the United Kingdom’s four health systems performing better than another” and highlights the “clear and consistent commitment to quality of care in all of the health systems”.

The authors highlight the similar issues facing all the home nations, from an ageing population to the growth of chronic conditions. The report makes a number of recommendations for all the nations of the UK, including improving performance against other members of the OECD.

Findings for Wales include:

  • Quality is at the heart of the Welsh health system. The importance of high-quality and patient-centred care is given a high-level priority;
  • Continuously improving the quality of care is a deeply-established and widely-shared commitment in the Welsh health system;
  • A clear effort has been made in Wales to use patient concerns and complaints to help improve quality of care;
  • Wales is ahead on securely linking individuals’ health and social care data and is actively using some quality indicators;
  • The commitment by staff and the public to the values of NHS Wales seems strong;
  • A good range of health system information, including on quality, is systematically collected in Wales;
  • The introduction of a three-year planning cycles for Welsh NHS organisations is a step forward from yearly budget cycles and a focus on annual targets, seems like a positive one;
  • The Escalation and Integration Framework, which was introduced in 2014, is “a robust tool for quality assurance and intervention” by the Welsh Government;
  • The creation of primary care clusters has the potential to be an important resource in Wales;
  • Wales has a rich quality monitoring and improvement architecture;
  • The 1,000 Lives campaign has been a successful way of fostering a culture of quality improvement;
  • Wales’ Surgical Materials Testing Laboratory is an interesting model for other OECD countries;
  • Some focused peer review processes have been successful ways of identifying weaknesses and improving quality;
  • Wales is taking steps to monitor and tackle antimicrobial resistance;
  • The OECD recognises the Welsh Government’s prudent healthcare initiative which seeks to address over-diagnosis and over-treatment, while rebalancing the relationship between individuals and the health service.

The report also acknowledges the unique challenges faced by Wales as a result of its larger proportion of older people and children in the population; issues providing healthcare to isolated areas and the commitment to provide services in both Welsh and English.

Funding for health and social services by the Welsh Labour Government is the highest it has ever been, with a record £6.7bn invested this financial year, rising to £7bn in 2016-17. 

The report can be found here.

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