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HIW to continue with adapted approach to assurance and inspection

Following positive feedback on our adapted approach to assurance and inspection as well as the continued pressures that services face due to the COVID-19 pandemic, HIW Quality Checks will continue into 2021.

Read on to find out more about what we’ve been doing and what we plan to do.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is our continued commitment and goal at Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) to check that people in Wales are receiving good quality care, which is provided safely and effectively, in line with recognised standards. It is, however, also vitally important to make sure that we are not placing additional burden on the NHS or putting our own staff at risk. To achieve this, in August, we rolled out an adapted approach to assurance and inspection to ensure our approach to delivering our functions was both proportionate and appropriate.

Our new approach, HIW Quality Checks, have been conducted entirely offsite and focus on three areas;

  • infection prevention and control;
  • governance (specifically around staffing) and
  • the environment of care.

These align to the key areas set out in the NHS Wales Planning Framework and represent the areas we already know, through our work and through advice received from our Clinical Advisors, are crucial to safe, effective patient care. Each sector-specific methodology considers these three areas plus other pertinent areas to that sector. The work specifically explores arrangements put in place to protect staff and patients from COVID-19, enabling us to provide fast and supportive improvement advice on the safe operation of services during the pandemic.

We are keeping our work under regular review, are sensitive to pressures and have adapted our work programme in consultation with providers where appropriate. Across the NHS and independent sector between mid-August and the end of November we have conducted 57 Quality Checks, published 43 summary findings reports and issued 2 immediate assurance letters. We have also conducted a small number of more traditional, onsite inspections where our intelligence monitoring has identified serious concerns and indicated that there may be an imminent risk to the patient safety.

To date, formal and informal feedback on our approach has been positive across NHS and independent settings. We have already taken the opportunity to feedback early findings to the NHS Executive Board who have been supportive of the new approach. As a result of feedback and the continued pressures brought about by the pandemic we have decided to continue with our adapted approach until at least March 2021.

Further to our individual Quality Check summaries we will draw together and share our findings through a series of COVID-19 updates in December and February followed by a full report in April 2021.

Our full programme of work to March 2021 can be found in our Operational Plan 2020-21.

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