Assessing the landscape of quality improvement in the veterinary profession

Dr Tom Ling, Head of Evaluation and Senior Research Leader at RAND Europe, introduces the landscape assessment of quality improvement he and his team have been commissioned to undertake by RCVS Knowledge.

Noone in a caring profession wants to do a bad job and we all care about the quality of the work we do. The question is not about professional motivation, but about how best to organise the profession to deliver improving care and provide the best possible care for animals.

Until recently, improving quality in the veterinary profession involved ensuring that professionals are kept up to date with new treatments and diagnostics, discussing practice with peers, mentoring new recruits and, of course, learning from experience.

These are all things that need to continue but, in the face of the opportunities created by new technologies, changing challenges to animal health and welfare, rapidly evolving science, and new organisational structures, many within the profession are wondering whether a more structured approach to quality improvement (QI) might be needed.

As Dr William Taylor pointed out in a blog in 2017, a structured approach to improving quality involves good quality planning, quality control, and quality improvement. QI has been established as part of the NHS in recent decades, where they have acknowledged that quality planning plus inspection and regulation are not enough and have therefore drawn upon a variety of approaches to QI.

What is QI anyway?

QI involves stepping back from routine tasks and taking a structured approach to:

  1. A data-led analysis of the problem
  2. An approach based on understanding the processes of providing care
  3. An analysis of the demand, capacity and flow of the service
  4. Identifying suitable and acceptable tools to achieve change
  5. Evaluating and measuring change achieved

RCVS Knowledge has asked RAND Europe to find out more about what supports the embedding of QI in the veterinary sector and the barriers to this. I am delighted to have this opportunity. I have been involved as an evaluator in many of the most important QI initiatives in and around the NHS over the past 15 years and I think that there are many lessons to learn.

One of these is that QI does not always lead to improving quality – it has to be shaped to the needs of professionals and the nature of the work to be done, as well as taking into account the realities of the organisational setting.

Therefore, as part of this work we will be inviting many of you to participate in a survey. This is very important to help us inform the profession about the current state of play.

Whatever your level of familiarity with QI, please help the research team at RAND Europe by completing this short survey.

Complete the survey for a chance of winning a £150 Amazon voucher.

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