Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS)
Thursday, 14 April, 2011

A 10 year Quality Strategy for Health and Social Care has been developed for Northern Ireland. It is intended that the Strategy will protect and improve quality and aim to achieve excellence, in terms of safety, effectiveness and patient/client experience in the period up to 2020.

Good quality care must be at the heart of everything we do. This strategy provides a clear way forward for all of us, service users and staff alike, over the next 10 years so that as we plan for the future we can protect and improve quality whatever challenges we face. It will give us the long-term perspective needed in planning to address issues of safety, effectiveness and patient/client involvement.

There are already many examples of internationally recognised excellence within health and social care services in Northern Ireland which should be celebrated. Even more importantly, there are thousands of health and social care staff who apply great skill with compassion, giving their patients and clients the best possible outcome and experience of care at times of personal crisis. They have an unshakable determination to deliver high quality care, whatever the constraints. This strategy, therefore, has the great advantage of building on an already strong foundation, while recognising that no system is beyond improvement. It gives a clear commitment to sustainable improvement and high standards.


The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh is pleased to respond to the DHSSPS on this 10-year quality strategy for health and social care in Northern Ireland.  Our comments are as follows.

  1. Are the values, principles and assumptions underpinning this strategy appropriate?
    Yes, but we should take note of the radical changes taking place in NHS England in terms of quality standards, workforce planning and postgraduate education.
  2. Are the vision and mission statements, as worded, appropriate for the purposes of this Quality Strategy?
  3. Are the strategy goals identified useful and meaningful? Have any important outcomes not been adequately covered by these goals?
  4. Are the detailed objectives for each goal useful and meaningful?  Have any important issues not been adequately covered by these objectives?

    Strengthening the workforce – we would emphasise the importance of time for training (trainee and trainer) and the need for accurate and specialty based medical workforce data and trend analysis.

    Measuring the improvement - we would emphasise the need for audit systems and data capture resources for physicians where outcome indicators can be more challenging but are equally important eg particularly in acute medicine.

    Raising the standards – we would emphasise the importance of following evidence based standards and building on those already developed by NICE and SIGN that may need adaptation for the specific requirements of NI.

  5. Are the delivery arrangements set out in the strategy meaningful and likely to be effective?
    “The quality of services is inextricably linked to raising awareness and Earning commitment.” - a hospital doctor.

    The Colleges would be keen to contribute to the proposed Quality Forum and the proposed outcome measures due for publication in the first year of the strategy

  6. Is the timetable for implementation of this strategy set out in Annex 1 realistic?
    Yes, but it is unclear what is to be delivered under "evaluate strategy process".
  7. Is the strategy likely to have an adverse impact on equality of opportunity for any of the 9 equality groups identified under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998?
    None expected.