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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Quality Improvement with Dr Shah

Dr Amar Shah is the college’s first ever lead on Quality Improvement - but he knows he can achieve very little in the new role without your help.

For Amar, QI has three core components: it’s a systematic way to tackle complex problems; it’s continuous - always evolving and learning; and it’s about engaging people at all levels to achieve the improvement you’re looking for.

“QI is great because it’s based on evidence, and it’s about testing ideas and scaling up what works. And crucially, it brings teams and systems together around a common, shared purpose,” he said.

There are two main challenges people face in introducing QI:

  1. Time: leaders need to help people find the time; successful organisations need time to reflect.
  2. Support: people may want to get involved in QI but their organisation may not feel ready or able to support them.

While acknowledging the challenges, there’s definitely room to progress QI in your organisation, Amar believes.

“Most consultants could bring a team together and ask them how they feel about their work, what they really like and what frustrates them about the service. And they could do the same with a small focus group of patients. They could then facilitate a discussion about what the top priority is in terms of problems, and have a go at fixing it. That’s all QI is.”

The College is creating a network of QI leads in each Faculty - if you are interested please contact your Faculty Chair.

Meanwhile, Amar would like to hear your QI success stories to help spread best practice. Please email him at and we will publish a success story in the enewsletter each month.

Second Symposium of the Evolutionary Psychiatry Special Interest Group is  on 12 January 2018.


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