National Safety and Quality Primary Health Care (NSQPHC) Standards

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) is developing the National Safety and Quality Primary Health Care (NSQPHC) Standards for primary healthcare providers.

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The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) is committed to developing nationally consistent strategies, tools and resources to support improvements in patient safety and quality in primary health care. A number of projects are currently underway that are aligned to this commitment, including the development of the NSQPHC Standards.

Development of NSQPHC Standards

The first round of consultation on the development of NSQPHC Standards for primary healthcare providers closed on 31 July 2019. The Commission held consultations throughout Australia from May to July 2019, which involved 20 face-to-face workshops, three online workshops and an online survey for services and consumers. Workshops were conducted in Adelaide, Alice Springs, Brisbane, Broken Hill, Canberra, Darwin, Hobart, Launceston Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. The Commission heard from over 211 primary healthcare providers and 105 consumers.

The 2019 consultation has informed the development of the draft NSQPHC Standards, along with expert advice and input from the Commission’s NSQPHC Standards Advisory Committee, which includes representatives of peak professional bodies, Primary Health Networks, consumers and primary healthcare providers.

The broad public consultation on the draft NSQPHC Standards has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however planning has begun and consultation with stakeholder organisations is being conducted. It is anticipated the public consultation on the draft NSQPHC Standards will occur before the end of the 2020, with an approvals process and subsequent publication in 2021.

The Commission is also working towards developing and releasing accompanying resources concurrently with the publication of the NSQPHC Standards to provide primary healthcare services with practical support as they progress with implementation and accreditation.

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A significant proportion of health care is provided by primary care services but little is known about the frequency, causes and consequences of errors and adverse events in this sector. There is also limited evidence on effective patient safety initiatives in this sector. Risks to patient safety can occur in both acute and primary care settings, including large tertiary hospitals, small rural services and general practices.

Since 2009, the Commission has been working to better understand the issues that affect patient safety in primary care settings. Outcomes of this work include literature reviews, a discussion paper and a consultation report.

In 2017, the Commission undertook a preliminary consultation process to better understand how the Commission could support and improve safety and quality in the primary healthcare sector. For further details on the consultation process and findings, refer to the 2017 consultation paper and report released in July 2018.

Analysis of the feedback received through this consultation process identified that a majority of respondents were supportive of the Commission developing the NSQPHC Standards.