– The purpose of this paper is to present a description of the Irish national clinical governance development initiative and an evaluation of the initiative with the purpose of sharing the learning and proposing actions to activate structures and processes for quality and safety. The Quality and Patient Safety Division of the Health Service Executive established the initiative to counterbalance a possible focus on finances during the economic crisis in Ireland and bring attention to the quality of clinical care.
– A clinical governance framework for quality in healthcare in Ireland was developed to clearly articulate the fundamentals of clinical governance. The project plan involved three overlapping phases. The first was designing resources for practice; the second testing the implementation of the national resources in practice; and the third phase focused on gathering feedback and learning.
– Staff responded positively to the clinical governance framework. At a time when there are a lot of demands (measurement and scrutiny) the health services leads and responds well to focused support as they improve the quality and safety of services. Promoting the use of the term “governance for quality and safety” assisted in gaining an understanding of the more traditional term “clinical governance”. The experience and outcome of the initiative informed the identification of 12 key learning points and a series of recommendations
– The initial evaluation was conducted at 24 months so at this stage it is not possible to assess the broader impact of the clinical governance framework beyond the action project hospitals.
– The single most important obligation for any health system is patient safety and improving the quality of care. The easily accessible, practical resources assisted project teams to lead changes in structures and processes within their services. This paper describes the fundamentals of the clinical governance framework which might serve as a guide for more integrative research endeavours on governance for quality and safety.