UKAS accreditation....seven year review
Richard Pole, Operations Director.
Back in 2013, we were the first Vascular Ultrasound diagnostic company to achieve UKAS accreditation. Seven years later we have successfully maintained that level of excellence and now have eight vascular labs in scope. Other providers have also achieved this accolade but we will always be the trailblazer in this field.
UKAS accreditation is a process not a one-off event and we have been using the annual reviews to continually improve our practise and drive forward the quality of the service we provide to our patients. It was a complex process which involved a lot of hard work from my team completing the mandatory actions and making progress on the recommended actions that came out of the annual assessments.
Multiple accredited sites
Using the initial accreditation report and subsequent assessment reviews we have brought our Oldham and North Manchester vascular labs back into scope in 2015. Due to service improvements we included our vascular labs at the Royal Bolton Hospital and Warrington General Hospital in our 2017/18 assessment. Due to hard work of local staff both sites were successfully extended to scope. So we now have 8 locations across the NW of England which have been certified. Looking to the future we expect our vascular lab at Stockport Foundation NHS Trust to become accredited in 2020.
Holding UKAS accreditation makes us stand out and identifies us as market leaders. Professionally, I was asked to present our IQIPS accreditation experiences to our professional body – the Society of Vascular Technology (SVT) in November 2014. Gaining accreditation has definitely raised our profile amongst our peers. From a business point of view, we have recently been approached by venture capitalists wanting to make an investment because they have seen us on the UKAS website.
UKAS Accreditation is gaining momentum within the vascular diagnostic community. For NHS and private vascular ultrasound providers it is a badge of quality to aim for.
Morale and service
Our staff know that they work in accredited laboratories and that these are the first accredited laboratories in the country – this gives them a sense of pride and has increased staff morale. It has given us more confidence in our vascular services and has encouraged reflective learning.
Going through the annual surveillance process gives you the chance to review all the work you completed for the accreditation. It enables you to have analytical view of the service and ensures that all your recommended actions have been completed and are now included in the assessment.
Overall, I have to say it has have been a positive experience and I feel our service has “grown up” through the process. I would recommend any vascular laboratory to engage with this process and hopefully become accredited. We have found becoming accredited has driven up the quality of our services and also helps our vascular laboratories to be compliant for CQC registration. UKAS accreditation will enhance the awareness of vascular ultrasound as a profession across the UK.
Onwards and upwards
Twenty-five years ago the Society for Vascular Technology was starting the process of individual accreditation. Two decades later SVT is still the badge of quality we as Vascular Scientists are all aspiring to and achieving. Vascular laboratory accreditation is natural progression of the SVT process and in the years to come it will be rare to work in a non-accredited laboratory.
Although gaining UKAS accreditation has been hard work it definitely has been worthwhile and we are looking forward to all our full time services becoming accredited.
✓ Can save 17% to 34% of the cost of setting up and running a vascular laboratory
✓ Reduces capital expenditure
✓ Lowers staff and administration costs
✓ 95% of inpatients investigated the same day
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