National clinical audits

We manage a number of audit projects in the priority areas of

These national audits are designed to measure the quality of patient care and improvements over time.

What are the audits used for?

Each audit looks at the care patients are receiving and gives clinicians reliable, valid information that helps them review their performance and identify areas where they can make improvements.

Specifically, local healthcare organisations can use the clinically led, risk adjusted and statistically sound information contained in the audits to:

  • make sure that clinical standards are being met
  • compare their performance with similar organisations
  • identify and learn from best practice by looking at the national picture
  • identify and share good practice for the care of patients from all centres within England or the UK
  • explore and justify service improvement opportunities.

The audits also help NHS partners and professional bodies to fulfil their responsibilities for clinical quality and performance management.

Who runs the audits?

We are the single largest provider of clinical audits. Each audit is backed by appropriate professional bodies which provide clinical leadership and direction. A full list of these can be found within the audit reports. Our role is to deliver each audit which includes project management of the complete process, from development of the data requirements, gaining national authorisations, collection and secure storage of the data, analysis of findings and continuing review to ensure improvement. We also provide the infrastructure for the audits, including:

  • providing a secure clinical audit database and technical infrastructure to ensure patients' data is safe and secure
  • co-ordinating the various approaches to clinical audit across NHS organisations and professional bodies
  • ensuring that the clinical data collected is risk adjusted and aligned with national priorities.

How do the audits work?

Healthcare providers are asked to submit an agreed set of data for each audit. The data is held in a very secure environment, analysed and adjusted for risk and fed back, along with recommendations for improvement. Feedback is via annual reports available to patients, clinicians, allied health professionals, information management and staff. The data collected is renewed year-on-year to confirm progress and trends.

Most audits also provide timely, secure, online information allowing contributors to see from their own desktop how their organisation is performing against agreed national standards where available and in comparison with other trusts and networks.

While many of the audits have been in operation for a short time, other more established audits are already leading to direct improvements in patient care. For example, the heart attack audit has led to improvements in treatment following an attack and more patients taking effective medication when they are discharged.