HIQA publishes National Standards for Safer Better Healthcare

Date of publication:

New National Standards aimed at protecting patients and radically improving services, and which will form the basis for future licensing of all healthcare facilities in Ireland, have been launched today by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).

Speaking at the launch of the Standards, HIQA Chief Executive Dr Tracey Cooper said, “The National Standards are significantly important for patients, placing them at the heart of the care process, with a major focus on dignity, respect, efficiency and safety. They are a benchmark for change. Patients will have a clear expectation of the standard of care they can expect to receive and service providers will be clear on what is expected of them. The Standards provide, for the first time, a national and consistent approach to improving safety, quality and reliability in our health service.”

“In our work we have found that strong leadership, governance and management are essential for the delivery of safe care for patients. Therefore, effective leadership and clear accountability, responsibility, planning and management throughout each service are among the requirements set out in these pivotal Standards. These National Standards provide a roadmap for making this vision for safer, better healthcare in Ireland a reality,” Dr Cooper concluded.

The National Standards for Safer Better Healthcare contain 45 Standards, based on best international evidence, to ensure service providers protect patients from risk and from harm, inform patients of adverse events, acknowledge and support the key role of staff, promote good governance and make the best use of information and resources to deliver high quality and safe care within the resources available.

The Standards have been produced following an extensive consultation process conducted by HIQA in which over 200 submissions were received from members of the public and interested parties.

The Standards were sanctioned by the Minister for Health in May 2012 and they take immediate effect under Section 8 of the Health Act 2007. Every service, including hospitals, primary care and ambulance services, will be able to use the Standards to improve the service they provide to patients. From today, service providers will be expected to begin to implement the new National Standards, continue to improve the day-to-day experience and outcome for patients and their families and begin to demonstrate compliance with them.

The Standards are a first step towards a licensing system for the Irish healthcare system, both public and private. While HIQA’s remit does not currently cover private healthcare, representatives of this sector were involved in developing the Standards and the Authority acknowledges the general desire from the independent hospital sector to be involved in the implementation of these Standards. It is expected that private healthcare providers will adopt these National Standards voluntarily in advance of proposed statutory licensing.

Given that the National Standards are new to the healthcare system in this country, HIQA will launch an awareness and education campaign with key stakeholders, publish guidance on the Standards and work with other agencies to support the implementation of the Standards.

Later this year we will begin the process of monitoring how HSE providers and HSE-funded providers are meeting the requirements of the National Standards.

Further Information: 

Marty Whelan, Head of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement, HIQA
01 814 7481 / 086 2447 623 mwhelan@hiqa.ie

Notes to the Editor: 

These Standards have been approved by the Board of HIQA and by the Minister for Health.

The Standards are organised into eight key themes which reflect the most important themes in the Irish healthcare context. They are:

  • person-centred care and support
  • effective care and support
  • safe care and support
  • better health and wellbeing
  • leadership, governance and management
  • workforce
  • use of resources
  • use of information

The National Standards promote quality and safety, outlining wide-ranging principles to be followed by local primary or community care service, ambulance service, or hospital, with the single aim of providing safer, better and more reliable care.