Improving quality and safety - progress in implementing clinical governance in primary care: lessons for the new primary care trusts, forty-seventh report of session 2006-07, report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence

Following serious concerns about clinical and organisational failures in the NHS during the 1990s (such as Alder Hey, the Bristol Royal Infirmary and Shipman), the Government identified the need for a more systematic approach to improving quality and safety in healthcare. The Department of Health introduced clinical governance, a framework through which NHS organisations are accountable for continuously improving the quality of their services and safeguarding high standards of care. Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) are responsible for providing primary care services and commissioning services on behalf of their local health economy. This report examines the Department's progress in implementing clinical governance in primary care; the lessons learned; and the risks that will need to be managed if quality and safety are to be embedded in the new PCTs. that clinical governance is not as well established in primary care as in secondary care, largely because of the complexity of PCTs role in both commissioning and providing care; and the independence of contractors delivering healthcare, particularly General Practitioners (GPs). Primary care has also been slower in adopting a structured approach to quality and safety, evident for example in the lack of compliance with national systems reporting of clinical incidents. There is a lack of clarity between PCTs and their contractors as regards accountability for ensuring quality and safety, and scope for greater involvement of patients and the public in ensuring that primary care services are safe and of high quality.

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