Objectives We present a national evaluation of the impact of independent verification visits (IVVs) performed by National Health Service (NHS) England as part of quality assuring medical revalidation. Organisational visits are central to NHS quality assurance. They are costly, yet little empirical research evidence exists concerning their impact, and what does exist is conflicting.
Setting The focus was on healthcare providers in the NHS (in secondary care) and private sector across England, who were designated bodies (DBs). DBs are healthcare organisations that have a statutory responsibility, via the lead clinician, the responsible officer (RO), to implement medical revalidation.
Participants All ROs who had undergone an IVV in England in 2014 and 2015 were invited to participate. 46 ROs were interviewed. Ethnographic data were gathered at 18 observations of the IVVs and 20 IVV post visit reports underwent documentary analysis.
Primary and secondary outcome measures Primary outcomes were the findings pertaining to the effectiveness of the IVV system in supporting the revalidation processes at the DBs. Secondary outcomes were methodological, relating to the Model for Understanding Success in Quality (MUSIQ) and how its application to the IVV reveals the relevance of contextual factors described in the model.
Results The impact of the IVVs varied by DB according to three major themes: the personal context of the RO; the organisational context of the DB; and the visit and its impact. ROs were largely satisfied with visits which raised the status of appraisal within their organisations. Inadequate or untimely feedback was associated with dissatisfaction.
Conclusions Influencing teams whose prime responsibility is establishing processes and evaluating progress was crucial for internal quality improvement. Visits acted as a nudge, generating internal quality review, which was reinforced by visit teams with relevant expertise. Diverse team membership, knowledge transfer and timely feedback made visits more impactful.
- MEDICAL EDUCATION & TRAINING
- QUALITY IMPROVEMENT
- INSPECTION VISITS
- MEDICAL REVALIDATION
- PROFESSIONAL REGULATION
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Contributors AG, KW, RV, AR, TW and IG all contributed to: the design of the study, the collection and interpretation of data. AMcK, along with all the others, also contributed to the drafting, revision, and final approval of the article. All authors agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work. All of the authors therefore satisfy the following relevant criteria of authorship. Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; and Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and final approval of the version to be published; and agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.
Funding This paper reports data from an evaluation funded by NHS England, Contract No. 167034.
Competing interests None declared.
Ethics approval University College London Joint Research Office.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement No additional data are available.
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