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Clinical governance: an assessment of New Zealand’s approach and performance

Robin Gauld (Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)
Simon Horsburgh (Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)

Clinical Governance: An International Journal

ISSN: 1477-7274

Article publication date: 5 January 2015




Clinical governance policy initiatives have been introduced in many countries and health systems. How to assess development is an important question. The purpose of this paper is to describe and reflect upon the approach taken in New Zealand.


New Zealand’s clinical governance policy of 2009 and its implementation through its public health care system are outlined. The authors’ assessments, in 2010 and 2012, of this policy are described and key findings summarised.


The implementation of the policy was swift, with considerable commitment across the public health care system to this. The quantitative assessments found reasonable developmental progress between 2010 and 2012. Case studies undertaken in 2012 indicated various areas that policy makers should attend to or build upon in order to better support clinical governance development.

Research limitations/implications

Key lessons from New Zealand’s clinical governance experience, based on the assessments, include the need for: a well-defined definition of clinical governance; resource materials that can be used by those involved in clinical governance development; recognition that clinical governance development is complicated and takes time; and commitment to new leadership and organisational arrangements.


This paper provides useful lessons for policy makers pursuing clinical governance development, derived from two rounds of assessment in New Zealand.



The project described in this paper was funded by the New Zealand National Health Board, the Health Quality and Safety Commission, and 19 DHBs. These agencies reviewed and approved all aspects of the research design, including for ethics. The authors are grateful to these agencies for their support, and to the many research participants.


Gauld, R. and Horsburgh, S. (2015), "Clinical governance: an assessment of New Zealand’s approach and performance", Clinical Governance: An International Journal, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 2-12.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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