Quality Systems Assessment (QSA)


The Quality Systems Assessment (QSA) is a clinical risk management program designed to provide clinicians and managers at all levels with information relevant to their local systems for clinical quality and patient safety.


The QSA is one vehicle that contributes to resilience in our health system. Working directly with local teams and local priorities, the QSA supports continuous learning and improvement to prevent and reduce patient harm.
Through the multi-level self-assessment, reporting and site visits the QSA is able to identify risks and support improvements:

  • Locally – through detailed local data returned directly to local teams
  • Systemically – through aggregation of local data to identify high priority themes for action

All effort that local teams invest in the QSA process is valuable evidence to contribute to local accreditation against the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards.


The QSA helps to identify clinical risks and provide clinicians and managers at all levels with information relevant to their local systems for clinical quality and patient safety.

All Organisations (Local Health Districts + Specialty Health Networks + Ambulance Service of NSW) participate as a proactive commitment to continuous local and system-level learning and improvement. The QSA is an important part of the NSW Patient Safety and Clinical Quality Program (PSCQP).

Established in 2007, the QSA is the first of its kind in Australia to create an annual system-wide self-assessment focus and census on common topics of clinical risk. The shared focus enables identification of local and system risks to improve, as well as highlighting and sharing examples of excellence and strength.

There are four main annual components to the QSA:

  1. Completion of a self-assessment at multiple organisational levels
  2. Feedback and reporting to all respondents, the health system and community
  3. Development of improvement plans to address gaps identified through self-assessment
  4. Onsite visits that validate the self-assessment responses and facilitate discussion and collaboration on local priorities for improvement.


Introduced as part of the NSW Patient Safety and Clinical Quality Program (PD2005_608), the QSA was originally designed to review patient safety arrangements in AHS focusing on compliance with the standards and policy requirements developed by the Department.”

Experience gained from working with local teams over 6 annual cycles has evolved the QSA to that there is a far greater focus on continuous learning and improvement through collaboration within and between teams.

The QSA program focuses on the systems for quality and safety and not on individual performance. The QSA methodology is based on a risk management framework (self-assessment and follow-up site visits) that evaluates the systems and processes organisations have in place to control patient safety risks.

The 2013 Safer Systems Better Care report is now available on the QSA web page. Building system resilience through continuous learning and improvement is the connecting message of the report that has 7 recommendations relating to:

  • Continuity of care transitions
  • Embedding antimicrobial stewardship
  • Action on venous thromboembolism risk
  • High safety for high-risk medications
  • Good clinical care to prevent falls and harm from falls
  • Community Health: integrating care
  • Ensuring excellence in environmental cleanliness

More information regarding the QSA and previous reports can be found on the CEC Web page at: http://www.cec.health.nsw.gov.au/programs/qsa


Key Dates

  • 2014 Self-Assessment: July to September 2014
  • Local reports returned: November 2014 – January 2015
  • Annual On-site visits: February to June 2015
  • Annual State-level report: May 2015

Pilot Sites

Implementation Sites


Related Initiatives

Further Details


Ian Richards
Program Leader - Quality Systems Assessment
02 9269 5622

A/Prof Amanda Walker
Clinical Director, Quality Systems Assessment
02 9269 5500

Page Top | Added: 24 January 2014 | Last modified: 14 October 2014

Ian Richards
Program Leader - Quality Systems Assessment
02 9269 5622