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Inflammatory arthritis audit aims to improve care for patients in England and Wales

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The British Society for Rheumatology (BSR) is to conduct a national audit of care services for patients living with inflammatory arthritis.

The contract to run the National Rheumatoid and Early Inflammatory Arthritis Audit was awarded by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) as part of the National Clinical Audit and Patient Outcomes Programme (NCAPOP).

Over a period of three years, BSR will assess the care provided by rheumatology services in England and Wales and the health outcomes achieved for people living with inflammatory arthritis conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and axial spondyloarthritis.

The performance of services will be assessed against quality standards set by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), measuring key factors such as referral times from primary care, waiting time for specialised rheumatology care, time to treatment, access to education and self-management, and the outcome of care including disease remission.

Following on from a previous audit that ran between 2014 and 2016, BSR said that the new audit will provide more focused and precise data, helping reduce the burden on clinical teams, and will use an improved IT platform to streamline data collection and real-time feedback to support local quality improvement.

Kings College Hospital, London, will provide statistical and epidemiological support while specialist software company Net Solving will develop and run the IT platform.

Welcoming the contract for the audit, BSR president Dr Peter Lanyon said: “We are in a unique position as a rheumatology community to work with our members, maximise engagement with the national clinical audit, and embed a quality improvement culture that reduces variation and improves outcomes in every musculoskeletal service provider.

“Empowering our members with evidence of the impact and value of the care that they provide is a key part of our new strategy, and provides us with an invaluable opportunity to make a significant difference to the lives of almost a million people living with inflammatory arthritis in England and Wales.”

Initial reports from the audit are expected to be available in the autumn of 2019.