Quality improvements in healthcare

Putting evidence into practice By Karen Parsley and Philomena Corrigan Stanley Thornes 399 pages£22.50

This second edition of a book first published in 1994 provides extensive coverage of approaches to quality improvements, from evidence based practice to strategic planning, and frameworks such as total quality management and patient-focused care.

The authors complain (albeit apologetically) of the headache caused by re-writing just as new NHS policy on quality rained down on them. Readers may well complain (albeit with some secret relief ) that here is a book on healthcare quality with little mention of clinical governance and all the associated palaver.

The first edition was called Quality Improvement in Nursing and Healthcare, and the omission of nursing from the new title emphasises a wish to take a more multi professional approach. But here the authors are caught on the horns of a dilemma.

The strength of their work is the use of personal experience and case studies to get into the nitty-gritty.

But the development of a nursing strategy may not excite readers from other professions, for example.

The poor timing of publication is a central weakness.

The chapter on determining best practice provides information on a number of initiatives such as the NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, the National Centre for Clinical Audit, or the National Confidential Enquiries, yet fails to mention the National Institute for Clinical Excellence.

As a reference book this text is rich and useful but its glaring flaw is being out of date on important developments even before publication.

Steve Dewar Fellow, effective practice programme, King's Fund.