Diagnostic Services Accreditation Support Programme

Diagnostic Services are an essential component of the clinical patient pathway, providing information required to diagnose, treat and monitor patients.

The healthcare professional providing the diagnostic service is contributing directly to the patient’s experience of care.

The timeframe within which a diagnostic service is delivered is defined nationally and is directly linked to a Trust’s ability to deliver 18 weeks referral to treatment targets and cancer waiting time targets.

The need to drive up the quality of care for patients, whilst delivering efficiency and productivity is a key principle for both local commissioners of healthcare services and national specialised commissioners in NHS England (NHSE).

Diagnostics Services Professional Bodies and the Royal College of Physicians have created patient-focused accreditation schemes, designed to help ensure patients consistently receive high quality services, delivered by competent staff, working in safe environments.

There are four key accreditation programmes for healthcare diagnostic services, all aimed at setting the standard for excellence in care and service provision:

1. The Joint Advisory Group on GI Endoscopy (JAG) ensures the quality and safety of patient care by defining and maintaining the standards by which endoscopy is practised.

2. Internationally recognised standard ISO 15189: 2012, Medical Laboratories:

  • Clinical Biochemistry/Toxicology/Endocrinology
  • Haematology/Blood Transfusion
  • Microbiology/Virology/Parasitology/Serology
  • Histopathology/Cytology/Mortuaries
  • Immunology
  • Genetics
  • Andrology

3. Imaging Services Accreditation Scheme (ISAS) is the only nationally recognised accreditation scheme available for diagnostic imaging services in the UK

4. Improving Quality in Physiological Services programme (IQIPS) is a professionally-led programme with the aim of improving service quality, care and safety for patients undergoing physiological diagnostics and treatment. IQIPS accreditation is available for the following physiological disciplines:

  • Audiology
  • Cardiac physiology
  • Gastro-Intestinal physiology
  • Neurophysiology
  • Ophthalmic and vision science
  • Respiratory and sleep physiology
  • Urodynamics
  • Vascular science

United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) has been licensed by The Royal College of Physicians to manage and deliver IQIPS.

The Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) and the Society of Radiographers (SOR) have appointed UKAS to deliver ISAS.

UKAS provides accreditation to the internationally recognised standard ISO 15189: 2012, Medical Laboratories.

The JAG quality assures all aspects of endoscopy units to ensure policies, practices and procedures are safe and compliant with JAG, BSG and other national guidelines for endoscopy.

The Accreditation schemes are recognised by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and sponsored by the Department of Health and the Chief Scientific Officer for NHS England.

Accreditation programmes provide an essential framework for services to engage with a key deliverable outlined in the recently published NHS England business plan to “ensure that more than 70% of all scientific and diagnostic services are part of accreditation programmes and demonstrate robust quality assurance measures by end March 2015.”

In 2015, NHSE and University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) NHS Foundations Trust entered into a contract whereby UHB are undertaking the role of lead organisation, hosting the West Midlands Genomics Medicine Centre (WMGMC), based at the Institute of Translational Medicine (ITM). The partnership has provided an opportunity for UHB to focus collectively on all of its diagnostic services for the first time.

The WMGMC comprises 18 local delivery NHS partner Trusts (LDPs) all of which, under the terms of the WMGMC partnership arrangements, have committed to working towards the accreditation of their diagnostic services against IQIPS, ISAS, and the JAG standards.

To be effective, transformational work of this scale requires sponsorship and support at Director level within an organisation. The Executive Chief Operating Officer and the Executive Director of Delivery have supported the Trust-wide accreditation programme at UHB, acknowledging the benefits, such as continuous improvement in processes and patient outcomes.

As the lead organization, UHB

  • is driving a new model of accreditation by bringing together all “ologies” and supporting whole site Diagnostic Services accreditation
  • has produced a Trust-wide Diagnostic Services Accreditation Model to support and expedite the process across all WMGMC LDPs
  • has full UKAS accreditation on the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham site, following on-site assessments in 2018.

QEHB, part of UHB, is now the first hospital site in the country to have all diagnostic services fully accredited.

For more details email: Diagnostics.Accreditation2@uhb.nhs.uk.