Why clinical governance is important

Clinical governance is an umbrella term that covers activities that help sustain and improve high standards of patient care.

Nurses may already be familiar with some of these activities, such as clinical audit, for example. What is different is the effort to bind these activities together and make them more effective.

The NHS reforms launched clinical governance in the 1990s (Department of Health (DH), 1997; DH, Social Services and Public Safety 2001; Scottish Executive 1997; Welsh Office 1998). Each of the four countries adopted the principles of clinical governance. These principles apply equally to the private sector.

Health care organisations now have a duty to the communities they serve for maintaining the quality and safety of care. Whatever structures, systems and processes an organisation puts in place, it must be able to show evidence that standards are upheld.