NICE quality standards – supporting quality improvement


Quality standards 

08 November 2019

Rachel Neary-Jones, Quality Standards Programme Manager, NICE
Dr Sunil Gupta, GP and Member of the NICE Quality Standards Advisory Committee

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) quality standards were first introduced in 2010 and cover a wide range of health and social care topics. They sit alongside NICE national guidelines and set out the key priority areas for quality improvement within a particular area of care. The quality standards allow GPs to measure current levels of care and any improvement after implementing changes, making them an ideal tool for quality improvement.

What are NICE quality standards?

Each NICE quality standard contains around five statements that set out the priority areas for quality improvement in a particular health or social care topic, where there is variation in care. Importantly, each quality standard is informed by evidence-based guidance (NICE guidance and other NICE accredited sources). This can help GPs to drive up quality, measure your progress and, ultimately, plan and deliver services that provide the best possible care for your patients.

How can NICE quality standards support quality improvement?

NICE quality standards can support quality improvement in a number of ways:

  •  Identify areas for improvement - quality standards enable you to compare the care your practice currently provides against priority areas described within the standard. This will give you a better understanding of the improvement areas to focus on and could help you to plan quality improvement projects.
  • Develop an action plan for improvement - once you have identified areas for improvement, NICE quality standards can help you to develop an action plan detailing the changes needed. Each quality statement includes a description of what it means for different audiences. This could help you to develop specific and measurable actions for inclusion within this plan.
  • Measure quality improvement - once you have implemented changes, quality standards allow you to measure your progress with quality improvement. They contain structure, process and outcome measures. They also indicate where national assured indicators currently exist which measure the quality statement. This measurement is essential as it allows you to demonstrate that changes to services have resulted in an improvement.

How are GPs using NICE quality standards to support quality improvement?

Dr Sunil Gupta is a GP and a member of the NICE committee that develops quality standards. He has seen NICE quality standards used to support quality improvement in several ways. Talking about his experience, he said:

“The NICE quality standard on Lyme disease has provided GPs with a focus to reflect on and improve the diagnosis and management of this condition. It helps identify the key things that will make a difference in the overall quality of care. Another example is the child abuse and neglect quality standard that helps identify how to support GPs to be alert to child abuse and neglect.”

Further information about NICE quality standards can be found on the NICE website


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