Clinical governance: shared responsibility, a common goal

clinical governance

New principles will help guide design and delivery of high-quality pharmacy services.

We have a high-quality health system in Australia, and a first-class pharmacy profession providing valued care to their communities and patients. However, there are still unacceptable variations in health outcomes. There is work to be done.

Clinical governance is a shared responsibility that ensures everyone from frontline pharmacists and staff, to managers, owners and leaders possess the common goal of consistently delivering care that is safe and effective, of a high quality, and continually seeks to improve. It is a key mechanism to reduce the harm caused by medicine misuse.

PSA’s Medicine Safety Report found that 250,000 people are admitted to hospital each year because of medicine-related problems, at a cost of $1.4 billion. At least half of this harm is preventable.

Clearly, pharmacists are medicines experts. We therefore hold the key to improving the safe and quality use of medicines. However, while all pharmacy services have a degree of quality management and governance, the formal application of clinical governance varies considerably.

The recently released Clinical Governance Principles for Pharmacy Services 2018 seeks to address this issue by guiding service design and delivery to ensure consistent, safe and high-quality healthcare – instilling confidence in the community and healthcare organisations. Informed by the work undertaken by the Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Health Care, the principles cover:

  1. Partnering with consumers
  2. Governance, leadership and culture
  3. Clinical performance and effectiveness
  4. Patient safety and quality improvement systems
  5. Safe environment for delivery of care. They can be applied by pharmacists in all settings, whether in community or hospital pharmacy, general practice or aged care.

While not auditable accreditation criteria, the principles can be used to help identify safety and quality gaps when designing, monitoring and evaluating pharmacy services. They will also help to inform future high-quality services to be funded in the upcoming Seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement negotiations and beyond.

Clinical governance is a shared responsibility, the goal of which is safer, higher-quality pharmacy services for all Australians. We must therefore work together to ensure we embrace these principles – seeking continuous improvement. They are a further step towards ensuring our profession is at the forefront of the medicine safety agenda.

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