HealthcarePapers 6(3) March 2006 : 24-32.doi:10.12927/hcpap..18060

The Role of Safety and Quality Councils in Improving the Quality of Healthcare: An Australian Perspective

Bruce Barraclough


The Australian Council for Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Council) has made considerable advances in gaining acceptance of and commitment to the healthcare safety improvement agenda by all involved in healthcare in Australia. It has provided a focus for national efforts in safety and quality improvement, by raising awareness, building consensus and clarifying areas for priority action.

While the Council has set the agenda for change and provides advice in relation to problems, initiatives and actions, it has limited operational capacity and lacks the statutory authority to embed a culture of safety at all levels of the healthcare system. Statutory and regulatory responsibility and accountability for implementation lies with the Australian, State and Territory Governments and organizations in the private sector. Progress depends on coordinating the activities of Departments of Health and Human Services of nine sovereign governments.

The "levers for change" available to the Council were leadership, persuasion, advice and example, with the ability to develop strategies, frameworks, standards, tools and guidelines.

With the end of the Council's term approaching, a recent review recommended the establishment of an Australian Commission on Safety & Quality in Health Care (the Commission).



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