The first nationally consistent safety and quality framework for primary and community healthcare in Australia is set to be introduced, with voluntary accreditation starting in mid-2022.
The National Safety and Quality Primary and Community Healthcare Standards, once rolled out, are expected to signify to Australians that they are receiving safe and high-quality health care at the accredited provider.
Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare chief medical officer professor Anne Duggan told a launch event on Tuesday that primary and secondary healthcare providers should start to prepare to become independently accredited.
“Accreditation to the standards will be voluntary unless a regulator or funder of your service makes this a requirement,” Duggan added.
Federal health minister Greg Hunt told the event that while Australia’s response to the pandemic had led to a “once-in-a-generation transformation of our health system” the standards were about looking to the future.
“They’re about making sure in a simple, easy to understand, rigorous but not onerous set of conditions and standards that our primary and community care sector is able to care for the patient, to do it safely and to do it in a way which enhances their professional standing,” Hunt said.
The Australian Medical Association had supported the standards during their formation but pushed to ensure clarity that they did not apply to general practice.
The standards also have the support of the Australian government’s chief allied health officer Dr Anne-marie Boxall.
“It is important that people feel safe when they access a healthcare service, that the care patients receive is tailored to their needs, and that they are supported to make informed decisions about their own care,” she said in a statement.
“Now is the time for healthcare services to become familiar with the new standards, ahead of voluntary independent accreditation being introduced next year. Healthcare providers may identify areas that need some attention, while many will find that they are already addressing elements described in the standards.
“By implementing these standards, healthcare services will be well-positioned to demonstrate to their patients that they are providing safe, high-quality care.”