Dr Janice Wilson on the quality and safety challenge

28 Apr 2011 | Partners in Care

There are three key elements that are central to quality and safety in health and disability services: consumer engagement and partnership, clinical leadership and partnerships and the use of information in a timely and effective way. In this edition of the newsletter, I want to talk about consumer engagement and partnership.

The prime reason for improving health quality and safety is so we can ensure consumers receive the best possible care from our health and disability services.

All the Commission's work programmes feed into this goal – medication safety, mortality review, infection prevention and control and monitoring and reporting. But it is our workstream on consumer engagement that supports consumers to participate actively in decision making.

This involvement by consumers in health quality and safety decision making needs to take place at every level, including governance, planning, policy development, setting priorities, the delivery of services and in the partnership forged with providers about our own individual and family health issues.

As individuals we know a lot about ourselves, and we need to be able to feed this into the partnership we form with our own doctor, nurse and/or other health professional, as well as into the 'bigger picture' of our health and healthcare.

Empowered and knowledgeable health and disability consumers are far more likely to seek information about their care, participate in the management of their care and make the choices that are best for them. To make decisions, consumers need to understand the options, including non-surgical alternatives, and the alternative of doing nothing at all.

In the coming 12 months and more the Commission will develop an initiative designed to ensure consumers are actively involved in decision making, build consumer capacity and capability and capture consumer experiences.

A consumer network will be developed which will work with the Commission and other key organisations. Another focus for the Commission is providing clinicians with good information about what is happening, what is working well, and what could work better. Reporting of serious and sentinel events in our hospitals is one example of this, but our mandate is much broader.

We are charged with providing a clear picture of sector performance over time through national and international benchmarking. We need to make sure the sector has good information about what is happening, and that sound evaluation processes are in place. We will provide information that shows managers and clinicians in which areas they are performing well, and where improvements can be made.

While the Commission has a role in leading the quality and safety agenda, we will make the best and fastest progress by working closely with providers, including non-government organisations and private providers, as well as with agencies such as the Ministry of Health, the National Health Board, Health Workforce New Zealand, the National Health IT Board, the Health and Disability Commissioner, ACC and others.

We look forward to a very busy and challenging time ahead as we work with the sector to make a real and sustainable difference to the health of New Zealanders, and I look forward to working with many of you.

Dr Janice Wilson

Chief Executive

Last updated 14/02/2012