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A single definition of quality for the NHS was first set out in ‘High Quality Care for All - NHS Next Stage Review (Final Report)’ (2008), led by Lord Darzi, and has since been embraced by staff throughout the NHS and by successive governments.


This definition sets out the three dimensions to quality that must be present to provide a high quality service.

  1. Clinical effectiveness – quality care is delivered according to the best evidence available that demonstrates the most clinically effective options available that are likely to improve a patient’s health outcomes.
  2. Safety – quality care is delivered in a way that reduces the risk of any avoidable harm and risks to a patient’s safety.
  3. Patient experience – quality care provides the patient (and their carers) with a positive experience of receiving and recovering from the care provided, including being treated according to what the patient (or their representatives) wants or needs, and with compassion, dignity and respect.

The diagram below illustrates how the five National Outcomes Framework domains are overlaid on the three dimensions of quality.

What is quality image

Quality Strategy

You can read our Quality Strategy which sets out our plans for delivering quality services across all of our population.

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