FAQs & Help

Full and complete details for the departmental accreditation process can be found in here however here are some of the more frequently asked questions:

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

Individual accreditation is just one aspect 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 10 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 four areas:

  • Transthoracic echocardiography
  • Transoesophageal echocardiography
  • Stress echocardiography
  • Training to BSE adult proficiency standard

Both standard and advanced certification exists for transthoracic echocardiography and training. Only standard level certification exists for transoesophageal and stress echocardiography.

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 - see our eligibility page.

The easiest way to determine whether your department it likely to meet the criteria is to complete the eligibility questionnaire on the home page.  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.

How much will it cost?

On application there is a non refundable fee of £500 for the entire process.  This fee is fixed; regardless of the areas being reviewed for accreditation i.e. the fee is the same if you apply for transthoracic echocardiography only or if you apply for all four areas to be assessed. If a department submits a further application form for an additional type of accreditation at a much later date than the originally submitted form and if 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?

BSE 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.

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 be sent an automatic acknowledgement. An inspection visit will be conducted within approximately 3 months and the result of the process will be given within a month from the inspection.

Most departments take about six months to pass through the process although 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.  For departments with fairly easily remedied omissions e.g. 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 1 year of the original application, no further fee will apply.

For more major issues that may not be able to be addressed within the required time period, e.g. staff requiring individual accreditation, departments will be able to reapply in the future but will be required to pay the full fee.

BSE 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.

What about re-accreditation?

Departmental accreditation will be valid for 5 years after which reaccreditation will be required.  Departmental reaccreditation at 5 years will be free and mainly involve checking that there have been no significant changes to staff, equipment or the department's infrastructure or processes. At 10 years reaccreditation will be more stringent and may require another inspection visit and a fee will be required.

Where can my department get help and advice from during the process?

This website has a forum where departments going through the process can post queries and also offer advice.

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.  Click here to view the joint statement from BSE, IQIPs and UKAS