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IQAS | Homerton Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust – accreditation Q&A blog
28 September 2022

The IQAS programme coordinator Laura Bewley, spoke to Allergy lead nurse Thippeswamy Billahalli and clinical lead Dr Raja Rajakulasingam from Homerton Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust about their accreditation journey. Homerton achieved IQAS accreditation in April 2022.

LB: ‘How did the accreditation process benefit your service? Were there any unintended benefits?’

TB: The process was hectic but exciting too. It was good to get formal recognition for the service that we are delivering. The whole process of making sure that the service documents, policies and procedures were up to date was useful. We were fortunate that we could make protected time during COVID-19 due to cancellation of clinics, as the process requires a considerable time commitment.

RR: It required a year and a half of work from the time we started. As we went through the standards, we identified areas which would be challenging to meet. During that time, we were able to initiate several enhancements which we wouldn’t have done if it had not been for the IQAS accreditation process. This included a new space for delivering services, a dietician session, and a pharmacist session. Being able to communicate to our management that these enhancements were necessary to meet the IQAS requirements meant it was easier for them to understand and appreciate our need for them.

LB: ‘How did you keep your team on track and motivated?’

RR: We are a small team, and we all know each other well. We were on the same wavelength when it came to the accreditation process, everyone wanted to help. We are the second clinical service in the whole trust to be given RCP accreditation, so it was something we aspired to. The difficultly was with management as COVID-19 was a big problem. It was a big ask for them to be involved with IQAS, but they really did do their part to support us.

LB: ‘How did the team feel when they were awarded? What does it mean to you?’

RR: Initially, we were deferred, but we were still very happy to get to the end of the process.

TB: It was clear it was quite an emotional day for the team. The way the service user feedback was delivered to us gave us more confidence that we are doing the right things for our service users. Patient satisfaction is what matters to us, and it is nice that this is acknowledged by the external team. The positive feedback was motivating for the staff. On the day everyone was there, including the management team, and they heard the feedback about our service straight from the horse’s mouth.

LB: ‘What did you find challenging about the process?’

RR: Collating the information and putting all the documents together required extra hours. Since being accredited, we don’t have to make that extra time, but we must remember we still need to continue to meet those standards, so we have reformatted the way we work. We do a lot by default now, so we have documents ready for our annual review.

LB: ‘What advice or top tips would you give other services on their accreditation journey?’

 TB: I would advise services to try and make protected time. Also, go and visit a service which has been accredited and learn from their experience. It was reassuring to see that we were not doing anything different to them and it gave us the confidence to go through with IQAS accreditation.

RR: Do a self-assessment first and identify where the gaps are. Ask yourself if you have the manpower and the resources to fulfil the requirements.


Thanks for reading this blog, and a big thanks to Dr Thippeswamy Billahalli and Raja Rajakulasingam and the immunology team at Homerton for their input and answers.

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