Trent Accreditation Scheme-An interview with Dr. June Smailes


At the recent World Medical Tourism and Global Health Congress, Steve Green, from Trent Accreditation Scheme along with Mr. G.J. Gyani, CEO of the Quality Council of India, Maureen Connors Potter, VP for International Services at HCPro and former executive director for International Accreditation of the Joint Commission International, Christine Leyden, Chief Accreditation Officer of URAQ, Dato’ Dr. Jacob Thomas, Councilor of the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health and Dr. Ronald Iverson, Chairman of Surgical Facilities Resources, spoke on a panel session about “The Value of Accreditation.”  International Accreditation is the hot topic with all the up and coming medical tourism destinations so that each country can place themselves in the medical tourism marketplace.

At the Congress, we had the opportunity to speak with Dr. June Smailes, Director of Trent Accreditation Scheme about what activities Trent was involved in with regards to Medical Tourism.  “In recent years, there has been increasing international interest in Trent.  We are currently working with hospitals in Europe and the Philippines, as well as in active discussions with other regions,” reports Dr. Smailes.  She also stated, “Being the only whole hospital accreditation scheme run from within the NHS, standards are constantly reviewed to reflect best practices inclusive of Department of Health, National Institute of Clinical Excellence, and Royal College Guidelines.  All areas including infection control are surveyed.”

Trent Accreditation Scheme (TAS) is a United Kingdom, National Health Service (NHS) Accreditation Organization.  Trent is a non-profit organization, which uses specially trained active NHS staff, including senior doctors, nurses, managers, physiotherapists and others, as surveyors.

Having operated in the UK since 1993, Trent moved into International Accreditation in 1999 when Hong Kong Private Hospitals joined the Scheme as their first international outpost.  The Scheme operates a developmental model, tailoring standards in order to ensure cultural sensitivity and developing partnerships with member hospitals.  Standards can be adapted to encompass facilities of any size.

The Scheme is” paper-light,” with an emphasis on application of good practice at the patient level.  Surveys concentrate on discussions with staff and patients along with supporting evidence of good practice.  Staff development and a culture of continuous quality improvement are fundamental to the scheme.  Hospitals are given the opportunity for local staff to be trained as surveyors whilst shadowing a UK survey.

There is a small annual charge to join the Scheme which covers running costs and access to training events.  There are no paid surveyors.  Survey costs in addition to this are dependant solely on airfares and accommodation expenses up to an agreed limit.  This is reflected in the relatively low costs of joining the scheme.  “We believe that by offering high quality, lower cost accreditation, Trent is able to operate inclusively in the healthcare market to raise standards as well as minimize risk for patients in every sector,” explains Dr. Smailes.

According to Dr. Smailes, the 2008 Medical Tourism Congress provided an excellent opportunity for Trent to make new contacts in the Medical Tourism Industry as well as to meet up with old friends.  “We were delighted to see quality of healthcare being regarded as an essential ingredient in the success of the industry and look forward to assisting in the assurance of safety for the Medical Tourist in the future.”  We will be sure to see Trent moving into Latin America as an affordable alternative for international accreditation.

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