The new National Safety and Quality Primary and Community Healthcare Standards

The Australian Commission on Quality and Safety in Healthcare (the Commission) has recently published a new set of standards, the National Safety and Quality Primary and Community Healthcare Standards (the PCH Standards). These are a nationally consistent, consumer-centred set of safety and quality standards.

Who are these standards for and what do you need to know? Read on to find out more.

Who should follow the Primary and Community Healthcare Standards?

The Commission will be encouraging all Australian primary and community healthcare services that are directly involved in patient care to implement the PCH Standards.

The PCH Standards are applicable to services that deliver health care in a primary and/or community setting. These services address the prevention, treatment and management of illness and injury, and the preservation of physical and mental wellbeing. This includes health providers like dentists, physiotherapists, podiatrists, speech pathologists and other allied health providers.

What do the Primary and Community Standards require?

There are three Primary and Community Healthcare Standards that cover clinical governance, partnering with consumers and clinical safety.

  • Clinical Governance Standard, where clinical governance is the set of relationships and responsibilities established by a health service to ensure good clinical outcomes. It ensures that the community and healthcare services can be confident that systems are in place to deliver safe and high-quality health care, and continuously improve services.
  • Partnering with Consumers Standard, which describes the systems and strategies to create a person-centred healthcare service in which patients and consumers are:
    • Included in shared decision-making
    • Partners in their own health care
    • Involved in the development and design of quality healthcare services.
  • Clinical Safety Standard, which considers specific high-risk areas of health care commonly encountered that need to be addressed and mitigated.

Are the Primary and Community Healthcare Standards mandatory?

The PCH Standards are voluntary. They should only be applied where services are involved in the direct care of patients.

However, in some cases, accreditation against the Standards may be required by a funder of a healthcare service to satisfy regulatory or contractual obligations.

How do these standards fit in with other safety and quality standards developed by the Commission?

The Commission has developed a range of safety and quality standards, including:

  • National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards
  • National Safety and Quality Digital Mental Health Standards
  • National Safety and Quality Mental Health Standards for Community Managed Organisations (in development)

All safety and quality standards developed by the Commission are aligned in structure and intent, and focus on embedding clinical governance and consumer partnerships in safe, high-quality healthcare services.

If no standard is mandated, then a healthcare service may choose to implement the standard that is most applicable to their service context.

Primary and community services can be subject to multiple sets of standards.  The Commission intends that the PCH Standards “are used as the core safety and quality component of each set of standards, thus minimising the compliance burden across multiple sets of standards”.

Can I transition from NSQHS to the Primary and Community Healthcare Standards?

If a service is currently accredited to NSQHS on a voluntary basis, it can transition to the PCH Standards once accreditation becomes available, at time of reaccreditation.

If a service is accredited to NSQHS as part of regulatory or contractual requirements, for example, a Local Health Network, you will need to check with your regulator and/or funder.

How can I get accredited for the Primary and Community Healthcare Standards?

The Commission is developing an assessment model for healthcare services to become accredited under the Australian Health Service Safety and Quality Accreditation (AHSSQA) Scheme. It is anticipated that accreditation will become available from mid-2022.

In advance of formal accreditation, a self-assessment module for the Standards is already available on SPP. Our self-assessment module is an excellent way to familiarise yourself with, and work your way through the requirements of, the PCH Standards. The self-assessment also includes links throughout to a number of relevant resources and templates.

Further information

You can access more information from the Commission about the National Safety and Quality Primary and Community Healthcare Standards here.

Interested in the PCH Standards?

Access self-assessments for the Primary and Community Healthcare Standards on SPP.