Accreditation, as defined by the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua), is a self-assessment and external peer review process used by healthcare organizations to accurately assess their level of performance in relation to established standards and to implement ways to continuously improve the healthcare system. Furthermore, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), accreditation can be the single most important approach for improving the quality of health care structures. Accreditation is not an end in itself, but rather a means to improve quality. The accreditation movement is gaining prominence due to globalization and the expansion of trade in health services. It will eventually become a tool for international categorization and recognition of hospitals.

The legal framework of accreditation came about in response to the ratification of Law no. (21) of 2015 regarding private health care facilities which specified, in Article 19, NHRA’s responsibilities for reviewing and evaluating the health services in all facilities. This is to ensure equality of those services, ensure highest performance and ensure compliance with regulations and standards related to patient safety, clinical performance, infection control, medication management, continuity of care, risk management and other technical standards.

In order to implement Article 19, the Supreme Health Council issued decision No. (7) of 2016 specifying the required NHRA standards, and subsequently issued Decision No. (26) of the same year regarding the accreditation of health care facilities in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Not only must an accredited facility meet the specific standards listed for each of the visited areas at the time of the survey, but it must also demonstrate to the survey team that it has effective policies and systems in place to ensure that the standards continue to be met throughout the three-year accreditation cycle.