Five things you wish you knew about improvement but were afraid to ask

In an NHS that can feel entangled in targets and outcomes, quality improvement isn’t always the easiest thing to make happen. In this new blog Sheriece Bracey, ICHP’s lead for the Q programme, explains the common pitfalls for quality improvement and provides a start point for all those beginning the process. 

Sheriece Bracey
Sheriece Bracey, ICHP’s lead for the Q programme

Myth 1: Quality Assurance (QA) vs Quality Improvement (QI)

There has long been focus within the NHS to meet requirements for different national and local regulations, this has in some instances become more of a box ticking exercise. The main object of QA is to focus on the outcome and that requirements are being met to achieve them, this falls under the remit of local and national clinical audits. QI moves beyond quality assurance, relying on data-driven decision making, and is used to make a process or system better through best practice.

Myth 2: Who should be leading quality improvement?

You! Managing for quality is something that everyone in your organisation should be involved with! It is the best way to foster change in an organisation, we should all be leaders in quality improvement and encouraging all employees to get involved.  Quality management isn’t something that only large companies or directors should be concerned with. Spread a quality mind-set and remember that improvement happens project-by-project, or not at all!

Myth 3: Running a Quality Improvement project takes too much time

The truth is that until you take a step back and fix a core process, you’re never going to get out of the daily struggles with the inefficiencies associated with that process. Giving a small investment now in fixing a broken process saves you a significant amount of time later.

Myth 4: Quality Improvement vs Continuous Improvement

Quality improvement is a continuous improvement process – most process improvement methods use the same collection of tools and techniques but just use different names. Don’t get too caught up on the jargon, just make sure that you are picking the right process/ tool for you. Remember, these tools are designed to assist you in making an improvement and positive change, not to add to the confusion of the improvement process!

Myth 5: Quality Improvement fixes all

Running a quality improvement project is not a quick fix a solution to all problems within an organisation, it is an ongoing effort. It’s not always going to yield positive results, however just because one change doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean a solution doesn’t exist. Collaborate, share and learn from other Trusts, because chances are they have been exactly where you are.

Getting started:  QI Life

As a starting point, QI Life is a great tool that is available to all NHS staff members in North West London which allows you to work on your QI project as a shared work space. QI Life can help guide you through your project, as well as doing your statistical data charts for you; so you can focus on getting started instead of spending hours fiddling with a driver diagram. Register here.


Feel like you want to learn more about quality improvement theory and implementation? There is a wealth of information and courses, whether face-to-face or via e-learning. For more ideas, contact Sheriece.