NICE quality standards set out the priority areas for improving the quality of health and social care in England, based principally on our guidance. They can be used by anyone who is working across health and social care services.
Each standard is made up of around half a dozen statements based upon our full guidance on a topic. They aim to improve quality in care and provide information on how to measure progress.
Our standards help health and social care service providers to assess their performance and quickly identify any areas which might need improvement.
Last year we published 33 new quality standards covering topics ranging from oral health promotion, to children’s attachment and suspected cancer.
We updated four of our already published quality standards on breast cancer, diabetes in adults, hip fracture and stroke. We also published more quality standards focusing on public health issues and health promotion than ever before.
Our total number of published quality standards currently stands at 148.
Last summer, we held focus groups with our stakeholders to discuss how they searched for information on our website.
We listened to the attendee feedback and launched a new website search facility.
The new facility allows people to filter information by population, setting and condition in order to find the quality statements that are most relevant to them.
This is the first time that NICE content has been made available in this way.
We are currently testing the site and collecting feedback from users who visit the site. Click here if you would like to get involved.
Last year we developed a standard on antimicrobial stewardship, which aims to tackle the problem of antimicrobial resistance through the safe and effective use of antibiotics to treat infections.
The term ‘antimicrobial resistance’ is used to reflect what happens when diseases caused by bacteria, viruses and fungi become resistant to the medicines we use to fight them.
The standard is based on our guideline which was published in August 2015. It aims to change prescribing practice so that healthcare professionals prescribe antimicrobial (including antibiotics) only when they are absolutely needed. This will help to slow the emergence of antimicrobial resistance and maintain the effectiveness of antimicrobial treatments.
Dr Hugh McIntyre, consultant physician at East Sussex Healthcare Trust and Chair of the NICE committee that developed the quality standard, said:
“This quality standard calls for healthcare professionals to work together to tackle inappropriate prescribing. Three-quarters of antibiotic prescribing occurs in primary care, the engagement of GPs is of particular importance. We need to act now to if we are to achieve a long- term solution to this problem.
In April 2016, we published an update of the stroke in adults quality standard. This standard aims to help healthcare professionals in the diagnosis and long-term management of stroke in adults.
There are more than 100,000 strokes in the UK each year and over 1.2 million stroke survivors in the UK. It is the fourth leading cause of death, and this standard aims to improve the quality of care for people who are affected.
This standard has been utilised in many national and local initiatives.
An example of this is the Greater Manchester stroke operational delivery network project. This project looked at streamlining the different approaches to community stroke care in Greater Manchester using our quality standard.
The result was a single set of outcome measures for stroke care which were agreed by commissioners in August 2016. These measures are currently being implemented across services in Greater Manchester.
It is anticipated that the measures will help to identify areas of poor practice. This can then be used to inform improvement plans.
In November 2016, we were invited to speak about our contraception quality standard at the Faculty for Sexual and Reproductive Health (FSRH) conference.
This standard aims to regulate the way methods of contraception for women, including emergency contraception are disseminated to people.
Presenting at the conference gave us the opportunity to address over 400 professionals working in sexual and reproductive health, to discuss our quality standard.