ESQH- Shaping a Society Fit for Purpose (Seminar Report)

 “ESQH & the Future of Healthcare Quality: Shaping a Society Fit for Purpose”.


A seminar was held in London last December that sought to identify the type of NGO that would be best placed to operate within the changing nature of the Quality in Healthcare field. Some facets of that changing nature were identified as follows:  


·        the decline in national societies for quality in healthcare

·        the evolving nature of healthcare membership organisations

·        the continuing economic stagnation in Europe,

·        the revolution in online access and usage for patients and clients 

·        electronic versus face-to-face communication in the workplace

·        changes at the European Commission.


As ESQH was established primarily as a network of national societies for quality in healthcare, the demise of so many of these has meant the larger Society has had to re-evaluate its membership and purpose. The first question asked at the seminar was – can ESQH still be relevant? By looking at the first constitution (2002), participants agreed that the original Mission was still as relevant today:


“The main object for which the body is established is to support quality improvement in health care in Europe including advancing education, and sharing and developing new knowledge in this area.”


It was also agreed that ESQH still had a very recognisable brand and a good reputation in Europe, so an effort to relaunch the Society was seen as very worthwhile. Various achievements were discussed, including ESQH’s involvement in EU projects like SImPatiE and EUNetPaS, the many successful workshops, summercamps and conferences it had held, as well as its input to the Commission through direct talks and its seat on various High Level fora.


The main points in the discussion could be summarised as follows: 



·        It was agreed that ESQH’s Mission Statement was still relevant, however the objects of the charity might need revision.

·        ESQH was still a recognisable brand and very much worth preserving

·        ESQH needed to become a more flexible, virtual organisation

·        There is a role to describe what is the new world for patient safety and quality

·        Revised ESQH priorities should include a focus on the health workforce

·        Importance of ageing workforce

·        ESQH could come under the EHFF umbrella whilst redesigning/re-energising itself.

·        The move from Brussels to Luxembourg by parts of the Commission was seen as a downgrade in emphasis for the Quality and PS field.

·        If ESQH is to become a “project organisation” then it needed two things – real projects to work on, and a structure to support that.

·        New revenue streams were required to help ESQH, as the old sources of funding had dried up.


As part of a move towards greater flexibility, ESQH will examine options for new categories of membership. Under the umbrella of EHFF (The European Health Futures Forum), ESQH may seek to replicate that organisation’s membership model. While EHFF also has a statutory Board, it principally operates as a ‘community’ – a voluntary, free association of people with a common belief in the organisation’s Mission. Individual members are free to participate in activities that suit their interests and schedules. If ESQH were to follow such a model, its initial areas of interest for members would likely include:

·       Patient Safety

·       Accreditation

·       Patient Empowerment

·       eHealth

·       Education.


In the afternoon there were a number of presentations:


Patient Safety – James Ticombe, Datix Ltd, including plans for a not-for-profit International Centre for Patient Safety.


Patient Empowerment – Jeni Bremner, EHFF, on ENOPE/EHFF’s plans for a European resource centre for patient empowerment


 eHealth – David Somekh, EHFF, on developments in eHealth and its implication for Healthcare Quality, and EHFF’s work in the field.


Education – George Bohoris, ESQH Athens Office, on ideas for a European Education Quality Network. 


In conclusion, those present at the seminar agreed on a number of measures for ESQH to adopt for 2017. A new Steering Group would be formed to oversee the changes. This Group would, largely in name, replace the existing Executive Board whose operation was being hampered, rather than enabled, by the Constitution. As such, new Articles of Association would be drawn up that would both fulfil the criteria of the Charitable Bodies’ regulations in Ireland, and make the running of ESQH more streamlined and practicable. The Steering Group will also oversee the change in membership model, allowing for new members to join while also retaining the membership of those national societies still active and contributing – most of whom have been with ESQH since its beginning.


ESQH will also seek to take on an intern, ideally a graduate, who can gain valuable experience in the Quality in Healthcare and NGO fields while running the Society’s admin and being free to travel the continent promoting the organisation.     


In addition, two small work groups were agreed to work on specific issues.

-        Quality Education – George Bohoris, Bo Bergman, Paul Bartels, Ales Bourek, Piera Poletti


-        EU relationships – led by David Somekh and Paul Bartels, with Jeni Bremner, Basia Kutryba & any others



Present at the seminar were individuals from the following organisations:

·       ESQH (Portugal, Sweden, Greece, Czech Republic, Denmark)

·       EHFF (European Health Futures Forum)

·       Datix Ltd

·       GGI (The Good Governance Institute)


·       The ESQH Offices for Patient Safety, Patient Empowerment, Knowledge Transfer from Industry. 


You can read the article in PDF form here