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New standards to improve the quality of health care delivered to patients, and to protect them from harm, can now been adopted by health care professionals, including optometrists, while a practice accreditation system will be introduced in mid-2022.

Announced on Tuesday 12 October, by the Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt (pictured left), the National Safety and Quality Primary and Community Healthcare Standards, will apply to all health care professionals working in primary health settings, including optometry.

Conforming to the standard is strongly encouraged, however the choice to pursue accreditation or not is up to each practice.

Optometry Australia is reviewing the new standards to determine how best the organisation can assist members to ensure they are meeting them.

CEO Lyn Brodie said, ‘While we acknowledge that optometrists already comply with rigorous patient and clinical care procedures, we support the standards and accreditation system as a way of sending an even stronger message to patients that optometrists provide the highest level of care as they follow recognised and accredited processes designed to minimise the risk of harm to their patients.

‘It further reinforces that optometrists are recognised health professionals who comply with the same level of standards as other primary and community health professionals including dentists and nurses’.

Implementing the standards will involve a three-pronged approach that will assure patients that:

  • They are accessing a health care service that is committed to providing safe and high-quality health care;
  • The healthcare service is committed to continuously improving what they do; and
  • Everyone in the healthcare service is accountable to the patient for the delivery of safe, effective and high-quality health care.

The accreditation system will require an independent assessment from qualified accreditation services to determine if the practice is complying to the standards.

Lyn said, ‘It is important that we take the time to fully digest these new processes to determine how best members and practice owners can implement them and we anticipate providing more comprehensive advice later in the year’.

The National Safety and Quality Primary and Community Healthcare Standards, were developed after wide consultation including health care professionals and members of the community.

They were authored by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.

Commission Chief Medical Officer and Conjoint Professor Anne Duggan said that, ’Implementing these standards is the best way for you to demonstrate to your patients when they visit you, they are accessing a healthcare service that is safe, of high quality and that will partner with them in their health care’.

She said that the standards will be a game changer for the health sector in Australia, by giving practitioners the tools to be even better.

A consistent national standard in hospitals and day procedure services has been in place for a decade and these new standards are designed to increase patient confidence and the level of care that they received across the broader health sector.

You can download a copy of the standards and abridged information sheets from the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care website.

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Acknowledgement of Country

In the spirit of reconciliation Optometry Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.