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The National Early Inflammatory Arthritis Audit has been commended by HQIP as part of a national award that recognises outstanding patient and public involvement. Entries for the Richard Driscoll Memorial Award were assessed on innovation, sustainability, communication and impact.

Paul Amlani-Hatcher, chair of the NEIAA patient panel, said: "As somebody who has recently been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, I am really proud to have been associated with the NEIAA, and appreciate being able to contribute to such a valuable initiative. I am thrilled that the audit has been commended for its work involving patients.

"The audit aims are so important in ensuring people like me get the right treatment at the right time. The reporting of the progress of patients being referred is critical in understanding how well the system is working and where changes can be made to help improve patients’ quality of life."

The NEIAA patient panel includes 10 patient representatives, two of which sit on the Project Working Group, which provides direction and advice to the audit. The panel meets twice a year, and is consulted every time a change to the audit is proposed, or a patient-facing document is drafted.

NEIAA Project Manager Jess Ellis said: "Our patient panel is completely invaluable, and has been closely involved in every aspect of the audit. I think one of the reasons we have had such a great return rate of patient forms is down to the involvement of the panel and their work to make the audit as accessible as possible."

The Richard Driscoll Memorial Award was introduced to acknowledge and reward outstanding patient and public involvement in national clinical audit. It was launched in September 2018 in tribute to HQIP’s former Chair of Trustees, a passionate lifelong ambassador for patient care, who passed away in 2017.