National Clinical Audit for rheumatoid and early inflammatory arthritis - Annual Report

The annual report analyses data on 6,354 patients, who were recruited to the audit between 1 February 2014 and 31 January 2015. It enables rheumatology services to measure their performance against NICE Quality Standards for the early management of inflammatory arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, benchmarked to regional and national comparators for the first time. The data should prove invaluable to trusts when assessing any requirement for service improvements and there are a number of examples where the data have already been used to deliver improvements to patient care.

The key findings and recommendations relate to access to services:

  • Only 17% of patients were referred by their GP to rheumatology within 3 days (NICE Quality Standard 1) and a quarter of patients waited more than 3 months to be referred.
  • Only 38% of patients were seen in rheumatology within 3 weeks of referral (NICE Quality Standard 2), and 53% were treated with disease modifying drugs within 6 weeks (Quality Standard 3).

Greater awareness of the importance of early recognition and referral is required, along with increased clinical capacity as the data shows that long waiting times for first appointments are significantly associated with lower levels of rheumatologists.

Please download the following

  Clinical annual report 
Patient annual report 
  Press release - National audit on rheumatoid and early inflammatory arthritis
Presentation of key findings

Further research on data analysed in the 1st annual report will be presented and published at Rheumatology 2016. The analysis for the 2nd cohort of patients is underway, with the results expected to be published in late summer.