Implementation of the NSQHS Standards

The primary aims of the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards are to protect the public from harm and to improve the quality of health service provision. When used in assessment they provide a quality assurance mechanism that tests whether relevant systems are in place to ensure that expected standards of safety and quality are met.

The NSQHS Standards

The NSQHS Standards were developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) in collaboration with the Australian Government, states and territories, the private sector, clinical experts, patients and carers. The primary aims of the NSQHS Standards are:

  • to protect the public from harm
  • to improve the quality of health service provision.

They provide a quality assurance mechanism that tests whether relevant systems are in place to ensure that expected standards of safety and quality are met.

Second edition

The second edition of the NSQHS Standards was endorsed by Health Ministers in June 2017, and released in November 2017. Assessment to the second edition commenced in January 2019.

Safe and high-quality care requires the vigilance and cooperation of the whole healthcare workforce. It is based on a risk mitigation approach that focuses on implementing the NSQHS Standards as routine practice and identifies healthcare staff responsible for specific actions. The second edition addresses gaps identified in the first edition, including:

  • Mental health
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Health literacy
  • End-of-life care
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

It also updates the evidence for actions, consolidates and streamlines standards and actions to make them clearer and easier to implement.

The second edition of the NSQHS Standards comprises eight standards. Clinical Governance and Partnering with Consumers Standards combine to form the clinical governance framework for all health service organisations. They support and integrate with all the clinical standards, which cover specific areas of patient care. The eight standards are:

  • Clinical Governance Standard
  • Partnering with Consumers Standard
  • Preventing and Controlling Healthcare-associated Infection Standard
  • Medication Safety Standard
  • Comprehensive Care Standard
  • Communicating for Safety Standard
  • Blood Management Standard
  • Recognising and Responding to Acute Deterioration Standard.

Download the second edition

The Commission developed the following resources to support health service organisations improve the safety and quality of care using the NSQHS Standards as a framework for improvement:

First edition

The first edition of the NSQHS Standards, which was released in 2011, has been used to assess health service organisations since January 2013. Using the NSQHS Standards, health service organisations have put in place safety and quality systems that have improved patient safety. For example, the rates of healthcare-associated infections have decreased, in-hospital cardiac arrests have decreased, adverse drug reactions and medication histories are better documented and less antibiotics are prescribed due to improvements in antibiotic stewardship.

The first edition addressed the following areas:

  1. Governance for Safety and Quality in Health Service Organisations
  2. Partnering with Consumers Standard
  3. Preventing and Controlling Healthcare Associated Infections
  4. Medication Safety
  5. Patient Identification and Procedure Matching
  6. Clinical Handover
  7. Blood and Blood Products
  8. Preventing and Managing Pressure Injuries
  9. Recognising and Responding to Clinical Deterioration in Acute Health Centre
  10. Preventing Falls and Harm from Falls

From January 2019, the Commission has agreed to the continued application of the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards (first edition) for private dental practices only until such time as national primary care health service standards are available.

All health service organisations, such as but not limited to hospitals, day procedure services, and public dental services across Australia, are assessed to the NSQHS Standards (second edition) and follow the updated Australian Health Service Safety and Quality Accreditation Scheme.