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This report is concerned with 'standards of quality and safety' within health and social care systems. Care standards are intended to support efforts in maintaining and improving the quality of care; they have been developed across countries, although the ways in which they are implemented and applied differs between nations. Taking a range of six countries, we review the regulatory mechanisms that have been implemented to ensure that essential standards of care are applied and are being adhered to, and consider the range of policy instruments used to encourage and ensure continuous quality improvement. We report on Australia, England, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands and the USA. The report is intended to inform policy thinking for the Department of Health and others in developing the regulation of safety and quality of health and social care in England. It was prepared as part of the project 'An "On-call" Facility for International Healthcare Comparisons' funded by the Department of Health in England through its Policy Research Programme.

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The research described in this document was prepared for the UK Department of Health (England) within the PRP project 'An 'On-call' Facility for International Healthcare Comparisons'. The research was conducted by RAND Europe.

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