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Clinical governance: bridging the gap between managerial and clinical approaches to quality of care.
  1. S A Buetow,
  2. M Roland
  1. Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, University of Auckland, New Zealand.

    Abstract

    Clinical governance has been introduced as a new approach to quality improvement in the UK national health service. This article maps clinical governance against a discussion of the four main approaches to measuring and improving quality of care: quality assessment, quality assurance, clinical audit, and quality improvement (including continuous quality improvement). Quality assessment underpins each approach. Whereas clinical audit has, in general, been professionally led, managers have driven quality improvement initiatives. Quality assurance approaches have been perceived to be externally driven by managers or to involve professional inspection. It is discussed how clinical governance seeks to bridge these approaches. Clinical governance allows clinicians in the UK to lead a comprehensive strategy to improve quality within provider organisations, although with an expectation of greatly increased external accountability. Clinical governance aims to bring together managerial, organisational, and clinical approaches to improving quality of care. If successful, it will define a new type of professionalism for the next century. Failure by the professions to seize the opportunity is likely to result in increasingly detailed external control of clinical activity in the UK, as has occurred in some other countries.

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