Headlines: October 23rd, 1998

The government’s attempts to improve quality and reduce variation in the quality of patient care in the NHS has been given a qualified welcome by the Institute of Health Services Management.The attempt to drive up and unify standards follows a handful of well-publicised cases where patients appear to have been failed in the quality of medical care they have received.

But the IHSM is worried that continuing to rely on clinical professions to regulate themselves will constrain managers who will have a new legal responsibility for the quality of patient care.

Its official response, a paper called ‘Clinician heal thyself’ states ‘There is some concern that managers will be held responsible for deficiencies in clinical performance without having sufficient power to influence clinical practice. If non-clinical management fails it is often because of clinical inadequacies. Dismissal of managers is an incomplete remedy for poor clinical practice.’

The paper also calls for teamwork between all health and social care professionals – doctors, GPs, nurses, midwives, health visitors, laboratory scientists and managers – to secure successful development of clinical governance.

Copies of the paper cost ten pounds to non-members and are available by writing to the IHSM, Publications Department, 7-10 Chandos Street, London W1 9DE with a cheque payable to the IHSM.

Meanwhile the ISHM has agreed to merge with the Association of Managers in General Practice in the new year. The new body’s proposed name is the Institute of Healthcare Management, and the move follows the increasing blurring of boundaries between community and hospital-based care management.