Clinical audit

What is clinical audit?

Clinical audit is a way to find out if healthcare is being provided in line with standards and lets care providers and patients know where their service is doing well, and where there could be improvements. The aim is to allow quality improvement to take place where it will be most helpful and will improve outcomes for patients. Clinical audits can look at care nationwide (national clinical audits) and local clinical audits can also be performed locally in trusts, hospitals or GP practices anywhere healthcare is provided.

The National Clinical Audit and Patient Outcomes Programme (NCAPOP)

NCAPOP audits are commissioned and managed on behalf of NHS England by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP). The programme comprises more than 30 national audits related to some of the most commonly-occurring conditions. These collect and analyse data supplied by local clinicians to provide a national picture of care standards for that specific condition. On a local level, NCAPOP audits provide local trusts with individual benchmarked reports on their compliance and performance, feeding back comparative findings to help participants identify necessary improvements for patients. Most of these projects involve services in England and Wales; some also include services from Scotland and Northern Ireland.

As well as the 30-plus national clinical audits, NCAPOP also encompasses the four Clinical Outcome Review Programmes (CORP). These help assess the quality of healthcare and stimulate improvement by enabling clinicians, managers and policy makers to learn from adverse events and other relevant data.

National Quality Improvement and Clinical Audit Network (NQICAN)

The National Quality Improvement and Clinical Audit Network (NQICAN) brings together the 15 regional clinical audit/effectiveness networks from across England.  NQICAN works closely with NHS England, NICE and HQIP.  It is NQICAN’s aim to support staff working in these areas in health and social care organizations; providing them with training, resources and giving them a ‘voice’ at national level.

All staff working within the field of quality improvement and clinical audit are encouraged to engage in their regional network and associated training opportunities.

The network provides practical guidance and support in relation to quality improvement, clinical audit including implementation of national audits, as well as related areas such as Quality Accounts, CQC Outcomes Framework , NHS LA Standards.  The network offers both added value to organizations and personal development to staff.  

More information, including the full list of regional networks with contact details can be found on the NQICAN website.