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National Screening Programme

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DAA Group and the NSU Audit Programme


The National screening Unit (NSU) has appointed The DAA Group to undertake quality audits for the Ministry of Health’s cancer, antenatal and newborn screening programmes.


NSU Manager Astrid Koornneef says the appointment of the DAA Group is exciting news. ‘Quality assurance and quality improvement activities underpin high-quality, equitable and accessible screening programmes. With the DAA Group we will be introducing a new audit programme with a schedule of regular audits, led by one agency, rather than individual programmes using different providers, as we have in the past.’


Ms Koornneef says the appointment of the DAA Group to improve and streamline the Unit’s auditing process comes at a time when the quality and safety of health services have never been more important.


To know our screening programmes will be audited by a single agency, with a solid reputation in the health sector, gives considerable peace of mind.’ NSU Clinical Director Dr Jane O’Hallahan says she welcomes news of the appointment of a new auditing agency. ‘The safety and integrity of our programmes from a clinical perspective are paramount. I look forward to working with the DAA Group and screening providers to uphold and support continuous improvement that results from quality audit.’


Information for Screening Providers.


The DAA Group stands for Designated Audit Agency Group.  The directors have both worked for over 25 years in the area of quality systems, standards and audit.  They both have nursing backgrounds across a range of sectors.  


A key value, important to the way we work, is partnership.  We will be working closely with you the screening providers throughout the audit process, and with the National Screening Unit (NSU) staff, using a collaborative partnership model. 


The preparation for NSU audit commenced with our contract on the 1st July 2020.  We have spent the first few months establishing a relationship with NSU and providers, and developing the NSU audit programme framework. We are taking time to understand each of the different screening programmes. This is a dedicated development phase as its critical to the success of the NSU audit programme. 


We will be drawing from our library of audit templates and processes to develop the screening programme audit tools, processes and auditor trainings to ensure each screening programme’s audit requirements are met.


Each audit will be undertaken by an experienced DAA Group Lead Auditor and one or two relevant Technical Expert Assessors (TEAs). The screening pathway and your quality management systems are the foundation of these audits. For this audit cycle, the audit will focus on specific areas and will not include all criteria of programme standards. This approach is being developed collaboratively with the NSU screening programmes.


Just to clarify, this audit process:

  • is not a clinical practice audit

  • will be designed to minimise duplication with other audit activity, such as DHB certification


The audits are called “verification” audits.  They will cover a 3-year cycle with a surveillance audit around the mid-point.  The tools are being developed based on the programme standards, contractual requirements and guidelines.  The audit process may identify opportunities for improvement and identify areas of good practice.  The NSU will follow up and monitor progress for any corrective action requests identified in the audit. 


Quality of service is a journey; it relies on the organisation having a person-centred approach that provides consistently safe and appropriate services for all people equally. The audit process will support this journey. The audit tools will be shared with you to help your preparation. The audit length will be dependent on the size and complexity of each screening provider. 


The DAA Group has appointed Fiona McDonald-Bates as the Client Manager for the development and implementation phase.  Fiona has been with the DAA Group for some years and is an experienced Lead Auditor.  Fiona will communicate with each provider giving them information about the process, the preparations required for the audit, and timeframes.


We have recently been seeking Technical Expert Assessors (TEAs).  The TEAs will work with our Lead Auditor to undertake the audits and prepare the reports.  We provide regular TEA training and support.   We may have more than one technical expert in our team to give the provider access to a wide range of relevant expertise, and to share the workload.


We look forward to communicating further with you and encourage you to ask any questions or raise any concerns you may have in order that we can address these as we plan this audit programme.


If you have any questions, please call Fiona McDonald-Bates on 04 498 9911.

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