Frequently asked questions

Here are some of the more frequently asked questions about departmental accreditation.

Staff in my department already hold individual accreditation. Why do we need departmental accreditation?

Individual accreditation is just one indication of the quality of a department, and an echocardiographer can only perform as well as the overall environment allows.

For example, an accredited echocardiographer using a machine that has not been upgraded for over ten years will be limited in the quality of echo they can perform. A department that does not allow time for staff to attend training or subscribe to any journals may not be up-do-date in its practice.

Departmental accreditation takes many issues into account, including equipment, room size, staffing levels, management and organisation.

Which areas can my department gain accreditation in?

Departmental accreditation is currently available in the following five areas:

  • transthoracic echo (TTE)
  • transesophageal echo (TOE)
  • stress echo
  • training
  • emergency echo (developed with the Intensive Care Society)

How do I know if my department is eligible?

The 'criteria for grading lists' within the departmental accreditation pack show the minimum criteria required for accreditation within each area.

The easiest way to determine whether your department it likely to meet the criteria is to complete the eligibility checklist. Completing this questionnaire will not serve as an application but will let you see if your department might fulfil the minimum required criteria for standard departmental accreditation.

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How much will it cost?

There is a non-refundable fee of £500 when you apply for departmental accreditation. This fee is fixed, regardless of the number of areas that are being assessed for accreditation. If a department submits a further application for an additional type of accreditation at a much later date than the original application and another inspection is required, a new fee of £500 will be applicable. We therefore advise departments to complete all forms relevant to them at one time.

Who can apply?

We can only assess and accredit departments and service providers in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

All staff are encouraged to be actively involved in helping the department achieve accreditation. Usually the clinical or technical head of department completes and submits the application but another senior member of staff (such as a departmental manager) may apply after appropriate discussion with the clinical and technical leads.

Will you need to visit us?

Yes. Once the application has been received, it will be assessed by the departmental accreditation review team and the lead applicant will be contacted by email to arrange a mutually convenient date and time for a site visit. The visit usually takes place 6-12 weeks after your application has been received. 

How long does the process take?

It has taken other departments about a month to gather the required information for submission.

After the application and fee have been received you will receive an automatic acknowledgement. A site visit will take place within around three months, and the result of the process will be given within a month of the inspection.

Most departments take around six months to complete the process. Sometimes it takes slightly longer, typically because it's difficult to arrange a convenient time for the inspection visit or because a Trust takes a few weeks to pay the fee.

What if we fail?

Areas which failed to attain the required minimum standard will be highlighted in the reviewers' report.  Departments with omissions that can be relatively easily remedied (such as a lack of or inadequate minimum standards) may be given the opportunity to address the issues and reapply within a set time period. If the resubmission is made within one year of the original application, no further fee will apply.

For more major issues that may not be resolvable within the required time period (for example staff requiring individual accreditation), departments will be able to reapply in the future but will be required to pay the full fee. We will endeavour to offer advice and support so that departments can successfully achieve accreditation in the future.

What will departmental accreditation mean to my department?

Departmental accreditation helps to ensure that facilities and equipment meet nationally agreed standards and is useful as a tool to improve service quality. The NHS is increasingly focusing on the quality of healthcare provision and it is likely that possessing departmental accreditation will become more significant in the future.

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What about re-accreditation?

Departmental accreditation will be valid for five years, after which re-accreditation will be required. A £500 fee is required at re-accreditation.   
Departmental re-accreditation at five years does not usually involve a site visit and mainly involves checking that there have been no significant changes to staff, equipment or the department's infrastructure or processes.

At ten years, re-accreditation will require a full re-assessment as there are likely to have been major changes in this time. A site visit will be required and a £500 fee will be charged.

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Our Trust wants to apply for IQIPs instead of the BSE Departmental Accreditation process. What should we do?

You may still be able to achieve BSE Departmental status through the IQIPs process. View the joint statement from BSE, IQIPs and UKAS.