NSQHS Standards Portal


This page contains information about the first edition of the NSQHS standards. This edition has been superseded by the second edition that was endorsed by the Health Ministers in June 2017 and released in November 2017.

This latest edition addresses the gaps that were identified in the first edition, including mental health and cognitive impairment, health literacy, end-of-life care, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

Health service organisations will be assessed to the second edition from January 2019.

To find information and resources for the second edition, visit the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care's new NSQHS Standards microsite.


The National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards were developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) in consultation and collaboration with jurisdictions, technical experts and a wide range of stakeholders, including health professionals and patients.

The primary aims of the NSQHS Standards are to protect the public from harm and to improve the quality of health service provision. They provide a quality assurance mechanism that tests whether relevant systems are in place to ensure minimum standards of safety and quality are met, and a quality improvement mechanism that allows health services to realise aspirational or developmental goals.

Content of the NSQHS Standards

Each Standard contains:

  • the Standard, which outlines the intended actions and strategies to be achieved
  • a statement of intent, which describes the intended outcome for the Standard
  • a statement on the context in which the Standard must be applied
  • a list of key criteria; each criterion has a series of items and actions that are required in order to meet the Standard.

Core and developmental actions

The Standards apply to a wide variety of health services. Because of the variable size, structure, and complexity of health service delivery models, a degree of flexibility is required in the application of the Standards.

To achieve this flexibility, each action within a Standard is designated as either:

  • core, which are critical for safety and quality or
  • developmental, which are aspirational targets.

Core actions are considered fundamental to safe practice. Developmental actions identify areas where health services can focus activities or investments that improve patient safety and quality. Information about which actions have been designated core and developmental is available on the Commission’s web site.

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NSQHS Standards