The Improving Quality in Allergy Services (IQAS) accreditation programme launched in 2015 and is designed to support all adult allergy services in the UK and Ireland. The second iteration of standards were published in April 2019. This was welcomed by the IQAS membership and wider allergy community. As well as all specialist allergy services, the programme is now open to all general allergy services.
The Royal College of Physicians' landmark report, Allergy: The unmet need, published in 2003, recognised the wide variation in allergy services and the need to standardise and improve care for patients. The report emphasised the importance of training for all healthcare professionals involved in the management of allergic conditions including organ-based allergy specialists and those based in primary care, to help support the increased demand on allergy services. A working party was convened to take forward various recommendations from this report, and the allergy accreditation programme was introduced as a mechanism to improve allergy care in the NHS, share good practice and make services equitable across the UK.
Accreditation has played a pivotal role in driving change in many aspects of healthcare, including mental health and diagnostics. In collaboration with key stakeholders including representatives from the Joint Committee in Immunology and Allergy (JCIA), The British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology (BSACI) and allergy patient organisations, IQAS aims to promote similar change and improvement in allergy services, whilst also providing assurance to patients, managers, referrers and commissioners about the service provided.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) acknowledges and supports the value of accreditation programmes. Professor Ted Baker, CQC's Chief Inspector of Hospitals, says 'participation in approved accreditation schemes ... is an important way that providers can demonstrate they have robust processes for learning, continuous improvement and innovation and is something we consider in our assessments of independent and NHS providers'.
IQAS is run by the Accreditation Unit at the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), who also oversee other clinical service accreditation programmes, including:
- endoscopy - Joint Advisory Group on gastrointestinal endoscopy (JAG)
- primary Immunodeficiency
- pulmonary rehabilitation.