The NZMA believes that quality considerations are fundamental to good health policy, systems and delivery. Quality drives excellence in the delivery of health services and helps ensure patient safety and optimal outcomes. Sound quality principles and frameworks are required to support and guide doctors in their work and decision making.  

The pursuit of quality therefore underpins the NZMA’s advocacy and all sector developments are critically examined through a quality lens.

The NZMA supports the development of quality measures in health but has some concerns regarding hard indicators both in respect of their strength as quality markers and the risk that indicators will transition from useful measures to inform safety and quality improvement initiatives, to drivers of process and that sensible care decisions and patient outcomes will become secondary to meeting the target.

The NZMA therefore needs to have confidence that the indicators selected and processes employed are:

  • appropriate for the purpose of monitoring and promoting quality and safety in healthcare
  • meaningful and scientifically sound
  • practical in terms of complete and accurate data collection without undue additional compliance burden for the sector
  • audited to ensure that there is evidence that ‘improvements’ against indicators do in fact lead to improvements in clinical care and patient outcomes
  • used for the purpose intended and not as a tool to police performance at a individual or organisational level.
Developments in the private sector (eg affiliated provider schemes) also have quality dimensions that need to be considered. Quality as recognised by the patient is also a critical component of the quality discussion.