What is clinical governance?

Clinical governance refers to the set of leadership roles, policies, procedures, responsibilities and strategies that are used to facilitate safe clinical care and the best possible outcomes for patients. Clinical governance is an integral component of an organisation’s overall governance system.

What are good principles for clinical governance?

While there is no one-size-fits-all model of clinical governance best practice, these are some core principles that stand as a good basis for a governance framework. They include aspects that may vary significantly in other corporate governance sectors.

Leadership and culture

Led by the board, the organisational culture is an essential element in supporting high-quality care and clinical practice. The behaviour of employees, especially leaders, must genuinely demonstrate a prioritisation of careful adherence to proper roles and responsibilities, and an ongoing dedication to learning and improvement. As part of this, all workers must too appreciate that non-compliance to relevant standards is met with appropriate consequences.

Consumer partnerships

To ensure that patients/consumers are receiving appropriate care, the consumer must be central to decisions made by the board and the management team. To generate a good understanding of consumer needs, effective feedback systems must be in place. Quality of care can be improved by close attention to consumer issues.

Organisational systems

Clear, easy-to-understand policies and procedures that support safe practices and high-quality care are essential.

Monitoring and reporting

Data monitoring and analysis can provide meaningful and useful information. Consumer outcomes and experiences must be regularly reported (including consumer feedback), as well as clinical risk and practice issues

Effective workforce

Employees should be skilled and appropriately qualified. Regular training and performance assessments supports this. Any quality or safety issues should be able to be flagged through feedback mechanisms, with strong whistleblower protections in place.

Communication and relationships

Creating an appropriate and positive organisational culture contributes to better performance across operations. Good culture leads to a better standard of internal communication and better communication with consumers and other stakeholders. This can also lead to a better experience for the consumer and greater adherence to safety standards.

Governance frameworks

An organisation’s governance framework will vary depending on its sector, the services it provides, the complexity of its operations, and the needs of the consumer. An at-home care services business that provides care to consumers who are physically and mentally well will require a relatively simple governance system. By comparison, a hospital or a business with multiple practices will by necessity have more complex systems of governance.

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