Accreditation is a process of external peer review to assess the performance of a healthcare facility in relation to agreed healthcare accreditation standards. Although there are numerous accreditation reviews that health services are required to achieve including pre-vocational medical training accreditation, the focus of this brief is health service accreditation against healthcare standards.
In Australia, the requirement is mandatory accreditation against the Australian National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards.
Accreditation in healthcare has existed for over 100 years (Brubakk et al, 2015) and has been widely adopted as an essential part of healthcare systems in more than 70 countries, including Australia (Greenfield et al, 2013).
Whilst the core function of healthcare accreditation remains assurance that a level of compliance to minimum standards is achieved (Brubakk et al, 2015) it is very much a primary driver of quality and safety internationally (Braithwaite et al, 2006).
Health service accreditation is an assessment of performance against standards at a given point in time. It provides a snapshot of performance against standards and ongoing maintenance and improvement of this performance is the responsibility of the accredited facility.