Standards and Procedures

JOURNEY TO ISO 9001:2008 CERTIFICATION

The NBSZ developed its quality management system based on the ISO 9001:2008 standard and was certified to it by the Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ) after meeting the requirements. NBSZ is geographically located in five areas namely Harare, Bulawayo, Masvingo, Mutare and Gweru. The operations of the Service are divided into seven departments that work hand in glove for everyday success of the service. The seven departments are Laboratory Services, Medical Services, Finance, Human Resources and Administration, Public Affairs as well as the Planning, Information and Research. All these departments within the service complement each other for NBSZ to meet its objectives.

The journey towards certification started a few years ago and was a long one. The first step was to update the organisation’s documents in line with the requirements of the ISO 9001:2008 standard. This process started as early as year 2012, during which the majority of the documents were either updated or drafted if previously unavailable. These updated and new procedures were not released for use immediately due to the anticipated changes to the quality management system emanating that would arise from NBSZ’s migration to a new information system. This latter project was only completed towards the end of 2012. To manage the ISO 9001:2008 project, a team of twelve internal auditors were appointed into the project team and these comprised staff from the various NBSZ departments who had successfully completed the ISO 9001:2008 internal auditor’s training.

A number of internal audits were carried out and any non-conformances (shortcomings) identified were addressed and improvements made to quality management system in line with the requirements of the standard. By the end of the third quarter of 2013, the system was ready for certification with the initial document evaluation (IDE/ stage 1) audit carried out in November 2013 by SAZ.

A number of non-conformances were raised and these were adressed in six months, therefore an application for a certification (stage 2) audit was made to the Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ) in June 2014. Corrective action was taken during a three month period for issues that were raised in the stage 2 audit, culminating in the organisation’s certification in November, 2014. As a result, this means that the NBSZ as a whole complies to the requirements of a quality management system as required by the ISO 9001:2008 standard.

Under the laboratory Services, implementation of the QMS has resulted in error reduction thus reducing wastage of consumables and/or blood products before, during or after processing. To further give confidence to staff in their operations, the NBSZ participates in External Quality Assurance programmes for its testing laboratories. Currently the organisation participates in the Zimbabwe Quality Assurance Programme (ZINQAP), South African National Blood Service (SANBS) and the United Kingdom National External Quality Assurance Scheme (UK NEQAS) proficiency testing schemes throughout the year.

In the Medical Services section the certification has improved effective donor care, and donor management which in turn encourages repeat donors who eventually become regular blood donors. Preventive maintenance and calibration of monitoring and measuring equipment on a regular basis is one of the fundamental elements of a successful Quality Management System. This has helped our donor clinics in the reduction of collection of under weight and over weight units of blood, which cannot be used but have to be discarded.

NBSZ maintains an activity based cost recovery model designed to implement full cost recovery based pricing policy through its Finance Department. ISO 9001:2008 has improved our procurement, storage and payment processes by formalising them in writing with clear flow charts. The documentation of processes assisted in the reduction errors and the amount of time spent on resolving them.

Proper handling of feedback and complaints with all stakeholders has helped improve stakeholder relationships in the service through the Public Affairs section which facilitates transparency with stakeholders. This has enabled the service to have an improved blood donor mobilisation, recruitment and retention strategy. The department is also guided by the organisation’s Communications Policy that assists the organisation when it communicates with its internal and external publics.

The application of the ISO 9001:2008 standard in the Human Resources section which is in charge of recruitment, compensation, training and development of staff improved motivation of staff and efficiency in operations due to capacity development and competency assessment so that they become more valuable to the organization. Uniform application of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) creates uniformity and team work in the processes. Generally, the system creates amongst staff, a “get it right first time” attitude, and this gives everyone confidence in what they do hence increasing motivation. Training is a very important element before embarking on any project as people contribute more meaningfully if well informed.

The implementation the ISO standards in the Planning Information and Research section reinforced the ability to identify opportunities and manage data to enhance the service’s capacity to execute its national and international mandate of innovatively providing safe and adequate blood products to those in need guided by international standards. It has enabled use of data so that it facilitates factual decisions in the operations of NBSZ.

The journey was quite long and a lot was learnt along the way. The major lesson learnt is that quality is everybody’s business and for an organisation to have a robust quality management system it requires efforts from all its members.